"You do know that no matter how many times you look at that stuff it's not going to suddenly hold all the answers."
Steve looked up at Danny, giving him a smile. "It's like a puzzle," he said, picking the items up off the dining room table and putting them back in the toolbox. "One of these days it'll make sense."
"Not without some of the missing pieces," Danny said, running a hand over Steve's shoulder as he sat down beside him. "We'll find them," Danny said softly.
"I know," Steve said. It was easier to believe that with Danny sitting there, looking sleepy and happy, his hair all over the place. He chased away the darkness. "Aren't you taking Grace to school this morning?"
Danny shook his head. "Rachel's doing it, since she stayed there anyway. I'm picking her up after dance class."
"So, dinner tonight?"
"Sounds good." Danny leaned in for a kiss. "I'll cook, you can sleep over at our place?"
Steve nodded, hoping a case didn't mess up their plans. Danny and Grace had been the thing holding him together in the week since his father died, since they'd failed to save him. Steve knew that the lull they'd had wouldn't last, but right now he was enjoying it.
Any other time work would've been the only thing that would distract him. But now....
"What's that face?"
Steve frowned at him. "What face?"
"That 'I'm a giant goof' face," Danny said, nudging Steve's knee with his own.
"Oh that," Steve said. He was unfamiliar with the face itself, but he'd become very familiar with the emotions he felt that prompted it. Something between getting his trident and the way he'd felt that first time Danny had kissed him. Or, rather, both first times Danny had kissed him.
"There's the face again."
Steve schooled his features, raising an eyebrow and cocking his head to look down his nose a little. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Right." Danny stood up. "You keep telling yourself that, babe," he said, leaning down for a kiss. "I'll be in the shower."
He watched Danny go until he was out of view, missing him already. He wondered if it would always be like this, if it was normal for all new couples, or if the powers they shared made it even stronger.
Because he didn't like it when Danny wasn't around. And they couldn't exactly be together 24/7, though they'd done a good job of it most of the last week.
Surely he could control it. He was a SEAL for crying out loud. He could ignore the itch that was creeping up the back of his neck at the fact that Danny wasn't in the room, and the feeling that was growing in him somewhat lower at the thought of Danny in the shower. Without him.
Fuck it, he thought, as he got up and headed for the stairs. He needed a shower anyway. It might not exactly save time if they showered together, but it would be worth it.
"Can we go swimming tomorrow?" Grace asked.
Danny tucked the sheets up around her shoulders. "No, because you have to go to school."
He smiled, smoothing her hair back out of her face and tracing the strands along the pillow. "After work."
"You asked him already, didn't you?"
She had the good sense to blush as she nodded. "He said I had to ask you, but it was okay if you said yes."
At least he'd shown some sense as well. "This is what I have to look forward to?" Danny asked with mock annoyance. "The two of you ganging up on me for the rest of my life?"
"Does that mean we can keep him?"
Danny laughed. "He's not a puppy Grace." Though he did sometimes seem a little like one, Danny had to admit. One that was just fine having found a home with the two of them.
"I know that," she said, rolling her eyes, the effect broken by a big yawn. "I just think we should keep him, that's all. He's happy here."
"We'll see," Danny said. Not that he didn't want to keep Steve--he'd let the guy stay until they were so old they couldn't remember their names. But that was up to Steve, and he wasn't sure how a Navy lifer would feel about staying with someone who could cost him his career. Even though Steve had gone into the reserves to work on the task force, he was still Navy--a SEAL, no less. That couldn't be easy to just give up.
"Okay. Night, Danno."
"Night, Monkey." He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead before leaving the room.
When he got downstairs, Steve was on the couch, hunched over his laptop. He looked up as Danny approached, wearing that smile that never failed to make Danny feel all kinds of warm. "Hey," Steve said softly.
"Hey yourself." Danny sat down beside him, nodding at the computer. "What are you doing?"
"Research." Steve turned the computer a little so Danny could see the screen as well. "I figure there have to be more people like us out there, right? Even if there's no 'Superhero Central' website, there has to be some trace of it on the internet somewhere."
Danny glanced at the computer, the site Steve had up not one he recognized. "Tempus latrones?" Danny read out loud.
"Time robbers," Steve translated. "I've seen it a couple of places, talking about people who can control time--forward, backwards, stop it altogether...sound familiar?"
Danny nodded. "And a little too close to home. What else have you found?"
"Vague references mostly, but I think we can probably find more."
"I know a guy who might be able to help."
Steve raised an eyebrow. "You know a guy?"
"Yeah, I know a guy." Danny leaned back, folding his arms over his chest. "What, you think because I'm relatively new here I can't know a guy?"
"I have no doubt you can," Steve said, putting the laptop on the table, and Danny couldn't quite figure out the catch in his voice, until his next words. "Just how do you know this guy?"
Really? Jealousy? As if Danny even felt like looking at anyone else now? "I busted him for hacking," Danny said, "so get your mind out of the gutter. He knows fringe people. He might be able to find something out we can't."
"Oh, he knows fringe people?"
Steve's tone had gone from jealous to teasing, and Danny leaned towards him. "He does," Danny said, not really sure if that was true, but he was hoping it was, at least. "Fringe people, beading people, silk people--I'm sure he knows them all."
Steve laughed, his forehead landing softly against Danny's for a moment. "We can go talk to him tomorrow," Steve said, before tilting his head and moving just enough to capture Danny's mouth with his.
They might not have known each other long, Danny realized, but judging by Steve's increasingly worried looks as they drove out to Toast's place, Steve knew when Danny's silences meant trouble.
"So here's the thing," Danny said, when he figured he had maybe thirty seconds before Steve asked. "I've been thinking about the people whose lives I've saved."
"Oh?" Steve prompted when Danny didn't continue immediately.
Danny nodded, his eyes fixed on the blurry scenery as it sped by. "I haven't tracked all of them," he said slowly, "but of the ones I did, none of them lived that much longer."
He saw Steve's muscles all tighten, from his jaw to his grip on the steering wheel. "And you never noticed this pattern before?" Steve asked, his voice sounding slightly strangled.
"Of course not. I would've said something after I saved your Dad." Though he wondered if that would've been better or worse.
Steve's grip relaxed infinitesimally. "You said of the ones you knew about. How many have you saved?"
"I've brought back twenty-three, including your Dad and Sang Min. Helped dozens of others, but they weren't dead."
"How many of the ones you brought back do you know for sure have died?"
Danny took a breath before answering, even though the number was burned in his brain. "Fifteen."
"So there are eight unaccounted for?" At Danny's nod, Steve took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Then we need to research those eight and see if they died." He glanced at Danny. "Do you know their names?"
"I remember all of them," Danny said quietly.
"Good. We'll look them up when we get back."
Danny just hoped at least one of them was still healthy and happy. He didn't like the idea that the next time he saved someone he'd be wondering how much longer they'd live. And if he should tell them something.
Steve pulled onto the road to the commune, as Danny had called it, with his mind focused on Danny's revelation instead of on the job at hand.
Would he have done anything different if he'd known his father was likely to die soon? It's not as if he could've put the man under lock and key. And he and Danny had gone after him as soon as they'd realized he was gone.
The road ended suddenly with a line of cinderblocks stopping them from going further. Steve pulled up to them and shut off the car, watching as Danny pulled a bag of candy from the back seat.
"You really pay this guy in candy?"
"No," Danny said, "I 'paid' him by putting a good word in for him with the judge because he deserved a second chance. The suckers are just a thank you."
Steve couldn't help grinning at that. "And I thought I was the only one who you were a sucker for, Danno."
Danny groaned. "Oh my God, I'm stuck with the king of terrible puns."
"That's right. You're stuck with me." It was the main thing keeping Steve together, in fact, that they were pretty much stuck with each other. But he wasn't going to say that.
Danny's smile said that maybe he was okay with that too, though.
They got out of the car and walked up to the shelter, the smells making it obvious what was likely growing in one of the greenhouses Steve could just see between the trees. "Are we going to get a contact high just from meeting your friend?"
"Friend is a strong word," Danny said. "And no, though I wouldn't inhale too deeply, or you might get an actual high."
Steve nodded as they approached a guy sitting at a laptop, large headphones seemingly the only thing keeping his hair out of his face.
Danny dropped the bag of suckers on the table. "Oh, my," the guy said, eying them the way Steve did steak, "dessert before dinner."
He turned to them, putting his headphones aside. "Jersey," he said, nodding at Danny.
Steve couldn't help snickering a little at the nickname. For all that he'd moved to Hawaii, Danny still did look very much like he'd just gotten in from New Jersey. Not that Steve would say anything, though he didn't need to, judging by Danny's look.
He wondered with a little alarm if mind reading was part of their little superhero bond thing.
Steve jerked himself out of that thought to hear Danny introducing him to Toast. "We need some research," Danny added.
"Don't they have guys who do that where you work?" Toast asked, suddenly more curious than unwilling.
"It's not really that kind of research," Danny said, leaning his hip against a nearby post. "Do you or any of your buddies know anything about the Tempus Latrones?"
Steve could tell by the way Toast's eyes widened that he was familiar with the term, but he shook his head quickly. "Nope. Not ringing a bell," he said. "Maybe check with UH, they have a Latin department."
"Nice try," Steve said, moving forward to stand over Toast, hands on hips. "Tell us what you know."
Toast looked between Steve and Danny, resembling a trapped rabbit. He looked around before leaning in. "Look, I don't know a lot," he said in a low voice, "and with good reason. People who look into that stuff don't tend to say much."
"Why?" Danny asked.
"Because they either learn better, or they aren't around to say it." When they both just looked at him, Toast said, "Seriously, guys, this is not something sane people go poking around in."
"Kinda like sane people don't go around breaking into ATMs and stealing other people's money?"
Toast managed to look both ashamed and offended at the same time. "Jail is one thing," Toast said. "This is another. Besides, I didn't know what they were doing."
"I know." Danny waved a hand at Toast. "Look, I'm sorry, but we need to know about this Tempus Latrones stuff, okay?" Danny leaned in. "We wouldn't ask if it wasn't important."
Toast looked between the two of them. "Okay," he said finally. "I'll see what I can find out. But if I get caught, it's not going to be good for anyone."
Steve looked at Danny, then back at Toast. "Then don't get caught," he said, jerking his head toward the car with a look at Danny.
"Call me as soon as you find something," Danny said to toast as he followed Steve to the car.
Danny watched Steve silently on the way back to Honolulu. His face was a blank mask, giving nothing away. After several minutes of silence, Danny cleared his throat. "He's got a point."
Steve's eyes jerked to Danny's for a moment before going back to the road. "We can't just not look into it."
"I'm not saying that. But...did you hear how scared he was of the Tempus Latrones? You realize he was talking about us, right?"
"You don't know that."
"Okay, but they're supposedly part of this whole thing we're apparently involved in."
Steve gave Danny a look he couldn't interpret. "It's not like we can just get uninvolved, Danny."
"I mean, if you know where the superpowers store is, I'm happy to go see if we can return our little gifts."
Danny opened his mouth, then closed it again on a sigh. "I suppose it's too much to hope there's a secret recording from Jor El hiding somewhere?"
"Are you claiming to be Superman?" Steve asked, raising an eyebrow at Danny.
"I think you fit the type a little more."
Steve's silence made Danny wonder what he'd said wrong, until he realized the parallel--Jor El was superman's father. "Shit, sorry. Your dad--"
"No," Steve said, with a wave of his hand. "It's not that. Dad had something in his toolbox. I knew Tempus Latrones sounded familiar."
"There was something in the toolbox about Tempus Latrones?"
Steve nodded, smacking his hand on the steering wheel. "When I saw it on the computer, it was vaguely familiar, but I went through so much info that night and it was just a mention. It wasn't until you said something about a recorded message from...."
"What did it say?"
"I don't remember. It was a scrap of paper in Latin at the top of a few pages paper clipped together. I was more interested in the tape recorder and the info on my mother's...murder."
Danny laid his hand on Steve's thigh. "We'll look at the papers when we get back," Danny said softly.
Steve gave a curt nod and swallowed, pushing the gas pedal harder.
Steve was quiet the rest of the drive. Not that he was normally a chatty person, but his whole body was quiet, which was unusual. Danny was already used to Steve's energy, always humming just under his skin, like an invisible current. Even sitting still, he gave the impression of someone about to spring into action at any second.
But the whole drive Steve had been still, and it drove Danny a little nuts, not knowing what, exactly, was going on. He had a feeling Steve wouldn't mind if he asked, but he also knew instinctively that it wasn't a discussion he wanted to have while Steve was driving.
So he waited until they were in Steve's house, Steve heading straight for the toolbox, to say, "You want to talk about it?"
Steve looked up from opening the box. "What?"
"Whatever had you so preoccupied all the way home."
"I was just thinking about the toolbox."
Which wasn't a lie, but it wasn't the whole truth, Danny could tell. He closed his hand around Steve's forearm and Steve paused, looking at Danny again.
A moment passed before Steve sighed. "If Dad has something in the toolbox about...this," he said, circling his finger around in the air in what had become their own little shorthand motion for their powers, "I couldn't help wondering if he knew. Did he know I might have this power and never tell me? Did he have it? Is that why he became a cop?" Steve sat down in the dining room chair, still holding Danny's gaze. "I thought we'd made it through all the secrets before he died."
"You don't know you didn't," Danny said, letting go of Steve's arm to pull a chair up next to him and take a seat. "There was nothing on the recorder that even hinted at it, right?"
Steve shook his head slowly. "Nothing I can remember, but I wasn't looking for it, either."
"Well then don't jump to conclusions." Danny nodded at the toolbox. "Open it up and find the paper you remember and let's start there. Maybe there are answers."
Steve nodded before digging into the box to pull out a handful of small papers held together by a tarnished paperclip. The first page was worn and frayed, the handwriting reminding Danny of letters he'd seen from his great grandfather from World War I. The words looked like gibberish at first, until he realized it was Latin, starting with "Tempus Latrones."
His Latin was limited to what he'd learned in criminal law, but Steve was frowning at it as if he might be able to translate.
Or possibly he thought if he glared at it hard enough it would translate itself for him.
"Can you read that?' Danny asked.
"Some of it. Latin's not my strong suit. It says 'Time Robbers,' obviously, then something about 'creatures free in the world,' and 'needing to protect the ground from' malicious something, maybe?" He looked up at Danny. "It doesn't sound good."
"It also doesn't necessarily say that," Danny reminded him. "You just admitted your Latin's not that good."
"Given everything we've heard so far you think it's going to be good?"
"I think we haven't heard enough to know anything yet." Danny nodded at the pile of paper. "What else is in there?"
Steve sifted through the papers. "Newspaper articles, mostly, with no mention of Tempus Latrones, so no way to know if there's a connection," he said, handing each one to Danny as he finished scanning it. "A couple of other old scraps from books in Latin. We'll have to get them translated."
Danny could hear the frustration in Steve's voice. "We'll figure this out," Danny said, putting his hand on Steve's.
"I know." Steve's voice didn't really sound like he knew anything of the sort, but before Danny could speak, Steve's phone rang.
Steve answered, listening to whatever the caller had to say before he said, "We'll be right there ," and hung up.
"That was Chin. They've finished the computer work and everything's set up, so HQ is finally up and running. He wants us to come have a look."
"I don't know anything about computers."
"You know how to say 'ooo' and 'ahh' and 'nice job,' yeah?" At Danny's nod, Steve smiled. "That's all you need to know for this. Let's go."
When Chin was done showing them how the system worked, the four of them ended up eating lunch in their new conference room. The table was littered with empty takeout and mostly empty beer bottles when Steve gave Danny a questioning look.
When Steve had accepted the Governor's offer to take over the task force, he and Danny had agreed it was only fair to tell Chin and Kono about their abilities from the start. Agreeing to it was one thing, though. Actually telling someone was another.
Danny nodded, but said nothing, apparently leaving it up to Steve to tell them.
Here goes nothing. "There's something you need to know if we're going to be working together," Steve said.
"If it's that the two of you are a thing," Kono said, deadpan, "that cat left the bag thirty seconds after we met."
Steve could feel the blush creeping up his neck. "Uh, no, though, yeah, we are. But that's not what I was talking about."
He looked at Danny, remembering the halting way he'd told Steve after that repeated kiss, and wondered how in hell to explain it without the ability to demonstrate.
At least if he screwed it up, maybe Danny could just rewind.
Steve took a deep breath. "Danny and I kind of have special abilities."
"Like what?" Chin asked. "Leaping tall buildings in a single bound?"
"Not quite," Steve said. "We can...do things with time." At their blank expressions, he elaborated. "I can kind of, um...stop time. And Danny can rewind it."
"If this is hazing the rookie," Kono said, "I'm not getting the joke."
Steve shook his head. "No joke, though there are times I wish it was."
Both Chin and Kono's blank expressions had turned into almost identical versions of 'dubious cop face.' "You know that sounds crazy, right?" Chin asked.
"Did you happen to notice anything odd when we caught Sang Min," Steve countered.
Chin frowned. "You got to him awfully fast," he said slowly, "but time seems odd in a firefight."
"He died," Steve said. "Danny rewound time so we could question him."
It was clear they were having trouble buying the story, and Steve looked at Danny, who nodded. Only a demonstration would do.
Steve put his hand on Danny's. They'd tried controlling their power a few times and found they had much better luck with a physical connection between them. Maybe their research would explain why, but all they knew now was that it worked.
He closed his eyes and focused. The change was always instantly obvious in the difference in the sound and the lack of air circulating. "What should we do?" Steve asked.
"Move things around?" Danny shrugged, then looked at Kono and grinned. "Or show off a skill having a daughter has given me."
He jumped up and went around the table and started braiding Kono's hair. Steve shook his head before typing 'I told you I could stop time' on the computer screen overhead. He also took the time to clear away the mess on the table.
Both he and Danny were back in their seats when time started again. "I don't know," Kono said, then stopped and looked around at the clean table.
"Nice hair," Danny said with a slight smirk.
She felt her hair as Chin looked at the computer screens. "Okay," Kono said, a hint of awe in her tone, "I'm seriously amused that one of you can braid hair."
Steve blinked at her for a second before laughing, everyone else joining in.
"Joking aside," Chin asked, "how long was time stopped?"
"One minute. That's all I can do. And that's all Danny can rewind."
Chin looked at Danny. "You seriously brought Sang Min back from the dead?" At Danny's nod, Chin let out a low whistle. "I'm still trying to decide if that's a good thing or not."
Danny gave Steve a sidelong glance, as if he was waiting for Steve to decide it wasn't. Steve put his hand on Danny's. "It gave us invaluable info. We had no other choice."
"So you go around braiding hair and bringing people back to life?" Kono asked.
"Most of the time it's not that dramatic," Danny replied, "but yeah, it happens."
Chin frowned. "You've never brought us back...right?"
"No," Danny said quickly. He glanced at Steve, who nodded, feeling Danny squeeze his hand before he continued. "But Hesse originally killed John McGarrett and got away."
Chin and Kono both went wide-eyed as they took that in. "Wow," Kono said after a moment. "That's a lot to live with."
Danny gave a half shrug. "I've been living with it my whole life."
"You're the only people who know," Steve said before they could ask how long he'd been like this. All those lost years still bothered him.
"Thanks for trusting us with it," Chin said. "Obviously it doesn't go any further."
"Thank you," Steve said. Even though he hadn't needed the confirmation, it was still nice to hear.
"And if you need anything from us," Kono added, "let us know. Though what you'd need when you have super powers, I don't know."
Steve took the opening. "Actually, we could use some help with research." Steve felt Danny tense up and rubbed his thumb over Danny's hand. "Of the people Danny brought back, we don't know what happened to eight."
"How many have there been?"
"Twenty-three," Danny said. "Fifteen...." He cleared his throat. "Fifteen have died not long after I saved them."
"We'd like to find the other eight," Steve said, "along with any info on any hint of this kind of thing anywhere."
"Just tell us where to start," Chin said.
Steve let out a breath. "Thanks," he said. "We have some info at the house and someone with some odd connections looking into it. But from everything we've seen, looking into this could get really dangers. You two didn't sign on for this, so--"
"If you insult us by suggesting we stay out of this to be safe," Kono said, "I'll punch you."
"I'll help." Chin added.
Steve laughed and felt Danny relax just a bit. "Thanks. As soon as we have a little more direction we can organize the research."
"Anything you need," Chin said.
Steve looked at Danny seeing the same relief on his face Steve was feeling. It gave him some idea what it must've been like for Danny to have Steve sharing the burden after all his life alone, and made him wish to go back several decades and share it earlier.
But no, they'd had to go through their separate lives to get here. And they'd made it, and had a strong team with them.
That was enough.
Steve gripped Danny's hand, eyes closed, whole body focused on the air around them. Over the past couple of weeks, they'd had some success working together to call on their powers at will. He had a sense now of what it felt like to shut everything down, almost like he could feel the air and make it stop, for lack of a better way to describe it.
The harder he tried, though, it was more likely than not to slip through his hands. Today was clearly one of those days.
Steve had a split second of hope as the music stopped, but the air didn't feel right and a second later, the next song started. He blew out a breath and pulled his hand away from Danny's as he opened his eyes.
"Sorry," Steve said, rubbing at the ache in his temples.
"It's not just you," Danny said. "My concentration is shot today."
Steve didn't need to ask why. Three of the eight people Danny had brought back but lost track of had been found. All had died within a month of Danny's save.
That they'd originally died sooner didn't really seem to help.
"We need a break," Steve declared, pushing on his knees as he stood.
"What kind of break?"
"There's something I've been meaning to show you." At Danny's mock leer, Steve shook his head. "Not in the bedroom," he said. Not that he would complain, but now that he'd had this idea, he was keen to do it. "Come on, Grace is with Rachel, it's perfect."
Danny looked at him for a long moment. "What, pray tell, should I wear for this idea?"
Steve grabbed Danny's hand and hauled him to his feet. "Do you have hiking boots?"
Danny wasn't exactly the outdoorsy, nature type, but he was in shape and he had no trouble keeping up with Steve. He might even admit--to himself, at least--that it was a nice change from either a gym or a working of chasing bad guys around.
He didn't mind the break, though, when Steve stopped and told him to look at the view. "This view...this has not changed one bit since I was a kid. Everything else has changed, but not this."
"Like someone stopped time?" Danny quipped ,eyebrows up.
"You're hilarious," Steve said, but he had the hint of a smile in his eyes, so Danny counted it as a win. "Come on." Steve tapped Danny's arm before taking off again.
The view continued to be spectacular, but Danny was ready for another break when Steve slowed. Danny could see images carved into the rock wall ahead, primitive shapes that looked vaguely familiar, like things he'd seen in tourist shops in Waikiki.
These were not for tourists, as it turned out, though. Steve explained they were some Hawaiian word Danny couldn't reproduce, AKA the far more pronounceable 'Images in the Stone.'
Steve had explained a few of the images when he trailed off, looking behind Danny. Danny watched him go to the cliff and peer over, and Danny resisted the urge to hold the back of Steve's shirt to keep him from falling.
"There's someone down here," Steve said. He called out to the man, but there was no response, so Steve pulled a rope out of his bag. "I'm going down there. He could still be alive."
Danny watched as Steve rappelled down the cliff to the landing to check on the guy. "Is he all right?" Danny asked, when Steve had reached the man and was checking his pulse.
"He's dead. He's got a gunshot wound, through and through, and there's very little blood."
"All right, there's no action up here," Danny said, looking around. "No signs of struggle. Somebody dumped him."
"He's gotta be from a plane or a helicopter."
Which only left a relatively small list of suspects given how many people could probably get access to one of those on the island and drop a dead body out of it and not get noticed. Still, they needed the evidence. Danny told Steve to move and took a picture of the body in place before Steve started the climb back up.
It was so sudden he couldn't have seen it coming, and yet he did, a split second before it happened. A rock slipped, hit Steve in the head, and landed on the cliff, his head smashing into rock in a sickening mess that Danny was never going to forget. Then he was gone, just like that, a quickly diminishing tiny, frail thing slipping from view over the side of the mountain.
Danny didn't think. He didn't have to. One second Steve had disappeared; the next he was standing next to Danny, staring at him in shock.
"We need to get CSU up here," Danny said, cutting him off.
Steve looked at him like he'd just said they needed to jump off the cliff. Which...no, okay, not going there, Danny thought. Not yet. He couldn't.
"So we're not going to talk about--"
"Later," Danny said, pulling him back from the cliff carefully. "Let's deal with the actual dead guy first, then maybe I can deal with...." He waved a hand in the direction of the cliff.
After another long look, Steve nodded. "Come on, we have to go down the mountain closer to the car to get a cell signal."
He touched Danny's arm to guide him back to the trail. At the touch, Danny reached out instinctively and pulled Steve into a tight hug.
He couldn't close his eyes to blink without seeing Steve falling. The warm, hard body in his arms was almost enough reassurance that Steve was still alive.
For how long? a little voice in the back of his mind whispered. He sent his conscious brain in search of that voice with strict orders to lock it up and throw away the key.
"Okay," Danny said into Steve's shirt, sweaty and wonderful against his nose. "Let's go deal with the victim."
If he led the run back down the hill, getting away from the cliffs as fast as possible, then it meant nothing.
Steve glanced at Danny as they backed out of the HQ parking lot. He'd been silent since they'd left the airfield, where they'd watched Rutherford return in chains. Silent Danny was unnerving. Steve stepped on the gas and swerved around a car, and Danny gripped the door, but still said nothing, eyes straight ahead.
Steve slowed down to only fifteen over the limit. "Okay, are we gonna talk about this? He asked finally. "Or are we going to keep pretending like it didn't happen?"
"Not in the car."
Steve stepped on the gas again, getting them back to the house in a hurry. He had to wait for Danny at the front door, closing it behind them, leaving them in the darkness of the living room. "So," Steve started, "now that the case is done--"
"Not in here," Danny said, not looking at Steve. Steve followed his line of sight and realized he was staring at where Steve's dad had been tied to a chair.
Where Danny had watched him die the first time and brought him back.
"Come on," Steve said softly, taking Danny's arm and guiding him out to the beach behind the house. The bright daylight seemed like the wrong setting for this conversation, but Steve couldn't help but feel soothed by the sound of the ocean.
"Okay," Steve said, when they were sitting in the weathered chairs by the ocean. "So...I died."
Danny's choked laugh was like a punch to Steve's gut, the pain in it clear and sharp. "And I brought you back," Danny said, staring at the waves, "So...."
"So nothing. We don't know that it means anything, Danny. There are still five people you saved that we don't know--"
Danny shook his head. "Chin told me just before we left. They found two more of my saves. Both died within a few weeks."
Steve inhaled deeply, letting the sea air calm him. "It still means nothing, Danny. Even if no one has survived it means nothing. Because nothing is a hundred percent certain. And none of those saves was me. They didn't have powers. That could make this different."
"You don't know that."
"And you don't not know it." Danny still couldn't look at him, so Steve got out of his chair and knelt in the sand in front of Danny, his hands on Danny's knees. "Hey."
Danny finally met his eyes. "I can't...I don't...even...."
Steve got it. He couldn't stand the idea of losing Danny, either. But he'd never once shied away from the possibility of death, not when there was work to be done that only he could do. "I know," he said softly, hand cupping Danny's cheek. "Me neither. But that's never stopped us from doing our jobs. And it's all the more reason to be optimistic. We're here for a reason, right?" When Danny didn't answer, Steve shook his face gently. "Right?"
"Right," Danny said, sounding almost convinced.
"Good. Because you may not have noticed this about me, but I can be stubborn." He ignored Danny's laugh. "And I am hell bent on staying here. With you."
Danny's smile was the first genuine one Steve had seen since he'd gone over the cliff. "If anyone could beat death twice...." Danny shrugged.
"Good. Then what do you say we go upstairs and make the most of the afternoon before we get to go pick up Grace?"
Danny pushed out of the chair, pulling Steve to his feet and leading him into the house without another word.
Danny woke to Steve flailing, thrashing around as if the covers were trapping him. "Hey!" Danny said, grabbing both of his shoulders and shaking. "Steve! Wake up!"
The thrashing stopped and Steve's eyes opened, blinking rapidly before they focused on Danny. "Shit," Steve said, scrubbing his face with hone hand.
"What were you dreaming?" Danny asked, even though he knew. What else could it be? He just wondered if Steve would admit it.
"The fall," Steve said, voice rough. "I kind of envy all your other saves, not remembering it."
Danny couldn't quite banish the image of Steve going over the cliff from his mind; he definitely couldn't imagine what it might be like to remember taking the fall. "Maybe remembering it will keep you alive," Danny said.
It was the one hope he was clinging to, that Steve's abilities exempted him somehow from the whole permanent death any day now rule.
Apparently it was the same for Steve, since the reminder seemed to help. "What time is it?"
Danny checked his phone. "Almost five," he said, giving Steve a kiss before moving away. "We should shower and get dressed. We need to go get Grace soon."
Steve's mood lightened considerably at that. If Danny hadn't already been crazy about the guy, the way he loved Grace would have done it. How could he not love someone who adored his daughter that much?
"Come on, slow poke," Danny said, pulling the covers off Steve. "If you hurry, we can shower together."
"Shouldn't that save us time?" Steve teased.
"Theoretically," Danny said, as he pulled Steve out of the bed. "But when you factor in both of us, naked and wet, in a small space?"
Steve considered that. "Fair point," he said. "So hurry up!"
Grace chose the restaurant for dinner, which meant Side Street, since her latest obsession was their edamame. Dinner was almost eerily normal, Danny thought, Grace's presence lightening the mood and giving them something good to focus on.
Danny finished his beer and excused himself to the restroom as Grace was explaining to Steve the intricacies of how Veterinarian Barbie was fitting in with her existing doll family. As he returned to the table, Danny stopped short behind them, unseen, as he heard Grace say, "...miss your dad?"
Danny hesitated, wondering if he should jump in, but he could just see enough of Steve's face to tell he didn't look like he was upset by the question.
"I do," he said, after a moment. "But he's still with me, kind of," Steve added, tapping his chest. "in here, you know?"
She nodded gravely. "So you're not sad?"
"Sometimes. A little. It's hard not to miss people when they go away."
"You can have a hug if you want," Grace said. "Danno says my hugs cure everything."
Steve smiled as he said, "I think that would help a lot, Gracie. Thank you."
As Grace put her arms around Steve, the look on Steve's face made Danny's heart ache. Steve had missed out on so much family in his life, and Danny wanted to give him everything he could to make up for it. Maybe he'd be able to stick around for it. Maybe that's why Danny had been allowed to save him.
Steve looked up and saw Danny as he let Grace go. "Hey," Steve said with a soft smile.
"Hey." Danny sat down across from the two of them. "Are we ready to head home?"
"Can we get shave ice?" Grace asked.
Danny checked his watch. "You need to get ready for bed. It's a school night."
Steve and Grace wore nearly identical expressions of pure sadness, staring woefully at Danny for a long moment. "Fine," Danny said, "but then straight home to bed."
Their joy and their high five were worth the compromise.
Danny had just sat down beside Steve after putting Grace to bed when his phone rang. Steve glanced over long enough to see Toast's name on the screen before Danny took the call on speaker.
"Did you find something?" Danny asked without preamble.
"Not a lot, but I think I may have tripped some kind of flag or something."
Danny looked at Steve. "What do you mean you 'think'?" Danny asked.
"Well, I was being super careful, but I sent an email to a guy I know and his response sounded weird, and I don't think it was him."
That sounded like a lot more than tripping a flag. Danny's face said he was thinking the same. "If it wasn't your friend," Danny asked, "then who was it?"
"Someone who knows enough about that thing you're looking into to try to lead me off the scent."
Danny started to speak again, but Steve put a hand on his to stop him. "Stop searching," Steve said. "At least for now. Make one copy of everything you have, and we'll come get it, and then forget about this."
"You sure about that?"
Steve could hear the hesitation in Toast's voice, the natural hacker need to solve every puzzle at war with Toast's sense of self-preservation. "You can't help us if they do something to you," Steve said. He wasn't sure who 'they' were or what they might do, but he was beginning to think it wouldn't be pretty.
"Okay, if you're sure."
"I'm sure. Thanks."
Toast hung up and Steve looked at Danny. "We have to be careful," Steve said. "It's one thing to put ourselves in danger, but our friends...Grace...."
He saw Danny's mouth tighten at that. "I'm not going to let anyone hurt her."
"They'd have to get through both of us," Steve said.
Danny nodded. "So, extra precautions from now on?"
"Yeah. We'll talk to Chin and Kono when we get to HQ. I'd try to tell them to back off the investigation, but...."
"But that would be like telling a dog not to chew on a bone."
Steve laughed a little. "I'm telling Kono you compared her to a dog."
"No, you're not, because you have a lot of uses for my mouth and the busted lip she gave me would hinder all of them."
"Good point." He knew Danny was trying to lighten the mood, but despite their banter, Steve couldn't help triple checking the doors before they went to bed.
"Grace!" Danny shouted in the direction of the bathroom overhead. "School is not going to wait for you!"
Danny shook his head as he grabbed his keys off the table by the door, tapping his foot and checking his watch. A knock at the door was a distraction, at least, though given their situation not necessarily a good one.
He opened the door carefully, frowning as he didn't recognize the person on the other side. A woman, thin, late-50s or so with brown hair stood there. Something about her looked vaguely familiar, but he was sure he'd never met her. Given everything going on he wasn't crazy about strangers showing up at the house. "Can I help you?" Danny asked, when she said nothing.
"Um...I'm looking for Steve McGarrett?"
"And you are?"
She sounded reluctant to even tell Danny that much. Everything about the woman was setting off alarms in Danny's head. "And Steve knows you?"
She looked annoyed and worried at the same time. "I'm--"
A strangled noise from behind Danny had him spinning around to see Steve, looking wrecked. "Mom?"
Mom? Danny turned back to Doris, who was looking at Steve, tears starting to form in her eyes.
"I think you should come in," Danny said, pulling the door back and letting her inside. He turned to look at Steve, who was like a statue, staring at his mother in shock. Understandable, given that until a few seconds ago, he'd thought she was dead.
Danny looked her up and down as he moved to stand close to Steve, providing a little bit of a barrier between them. "You know, for a woman who died in a car bomb twenty years ago, you are remarkably well put together," Danny said.
"Thank you. I'll take that as a compliment." She studied him for a moment. "And you are?"
"Danno!" Grace came flying down the stairs. "I'm ready!"
Danny looked at Steve. He hated to leave him there, but Grace had to get to school. "Are you--?"
"Go, Danno," Steve said, giving Danny's arm a squeeze. "Take care of Grace. It'll be fine."
"If you're sure." He glanced at Doris, then back at Steve. "I'll be back as soon as I've dropped her off." Danny leaned in for a kiss, then turned to go, giving Doris a look he hope conveyed 'you'd better be careful with him' before he collected Grace. "Come on, Monkey," he said, before she could ask who the woman was. "Let's go."
Steve watched the door close behind Danny, resisting the urge to call him back. Grace came first--for both of them--and he could deal with this on his own.
"So," he said, still looking at the door, "you're not dead then?"
"Look, Steve, I know you have questions."
His attention snapped back to her face, her eyes bright with unshed tears. "Questions?" He laughed. "That's...." He blew out a breath and scrubbed his face with one hand. "You know what I have?" he said finally. "Come with me. I'll show you."
He turned on his heel and marched into the dining room to open the toolbox on the table. He pulled a set of pictures out and slapped them down on the table in front of her. "That's what I have. Pictures of the car bomb that killed you."
"Only it didn't kill you. So who's charred remains have I been staring at in horror? Huh?"
Steve slammed his fist down on the table. "Do not call me that!" he said. "Do not think that you can waltz in here after decades and just act like nothing happened."
"Okay," she said, holding up both hands. "Okay. What do you want? You want answers? Fine. Ask away."
She sat down at the table, but Steve couldn't. He paced back and forth a few feet away, trying to get his thoughts in some semblance of order. "Who's body was in the car?" he asked finally.
"I don't know. It was a Jane Doe, already dead. A friend at the morgue arranged it. He got her in there, and he handled making sure everyone thought it was me. I didn't ask questions."
"A friend?" Steve asked, incredulous. "That's some friend."
She sighed. "There used to be a network here," she said slowly. "Of Tempus Latrones. We helped each other when we needed it. He was one of us."
Doris nodded. "He died about a year later."
"Are you sure?"
She nodded again. "Wo Fat found out he helped me. That's how he knew I was alive. He--"
"Wait, you know Wo Fat?"
The look of sheer terror on her face made no sense at first. "You know who he is?"
"He's the man who murdered dad."
"Shit." She buried her head in her hands. "Shit, shit, shit."
Steve took two steps closer to the table. "What? How do you know Wo Fat?"
She raised her head just enough to look at Steve, the rest of her face still covered by her hands. "I didn't know if you--I mean, you don't know the whole story."
Steve couldn't tell if that was good or bad. "What story?"
Doris took a deep breath. "He was after me. He was Tutela--they're like self-appointed police for the Tempus Latrones," she explained, confirming the suspicions he and Danny had formed in their research. "I...broke the rules."
"That's why you pretended to be dead?"
"When I made that choice, I knew my life would never be the same. I knew I would have to give up the only thing that meant anything to me. My family."
"So then why'd you decide do it, Doris? Why not stay and fight? It was one guy."
"Since when does a son call his mother by her first name?"
"Since you failed to be one twenty years ago."
He knew it was a low blow, and he could see the hurt in her eyes, but he couldn't quite care enough to apologize. He had cause. After a moment, she said, "I didn't see any other options, Steve. Wo Fat wanted me dead. And he would kill anyone who got in his way."
"So you faked your own death and lied to everyone, including Dad? That was your answer?"
"Yeah, I did what I had to do to protect my family."
"You know, Dad sent us away thinking he had to protect us. And he spent the next twenty years looking for your killer." And was murdered for it, Steve added silently. "All that was for nothing."
"If I had told him the truth, Wo Fat would have executed him."
"Wo Fat executed him anyway!"
He didn't get the horror in her face--she'd known how his father had died when she'd shown up. "I just...I didn't want it to be because of me. That's why I left. But I guess...I guess it didn't matter in the end."
"Yeah, that about sums it up."
She sat back in the chair, meeting his eyes. "You and Mary, God knows you deserved better. I just didn't know what else to do, Steve. But never once did I spend a day not thinking about you."
"Is that supposed to make me feel better?"
"It's the truth."
She said it as if that somehow made it okay. "What am I supposed to do with that truth? I just forgive you now, is that it? We just move on?"
"No, just...I'd just like you to understand. I'd like you to just try to understand."
Steve folded his arms over his chest, looking down at her. "Your explanation's a little late," he said shortly.
"Look, forgive me or not," she said after a moment, "we have bigger problems."
"Really? Bigger problems than you lying to everyone for two decades?"
"Are you forgetting the reason I did it?"
Steve stopped short. "Wo Fat."
"Yes, Wo Fat. Who will go through anyone to find me."
Steve thought about that for a moment. "Why?"
"Why? Why is he still after you twenty years later? I mean, aren't there other Tempus Latrones to police? What did you do?"
"I told you, I broke a rule--"
"Yeah, you broke a rule. How bad a rule was it that he still wants you after all these years?"
She swallowed. "There are supposed to be limits to our powers. Every once in a while we can go beyond them. But--"
Steve's phone rang, and he pulled it out, intending to silence it before he saw Chin's name on the screen. "Hold that thought," he said, "and stay put."
He walked back over by the front door and answered the phone. Chin filled him in on a lead they had on their latest case that still needed some follow up. "Can you and Kono handle it?" he said. "Danny and I have a...thing going on here. We need a little time."
"Of course. Anything we can do?"
"No, I'll explain later."
"Okay. Let me know. See you in a while."
As Steve was hanging up, Danny came in the front door. "I don't see any blood," he said, looking around the room. "Is that a good sign?"
"No blood has been spilled," Steve said. "Yet."
"So what's going on?"
He told Danny about Doris faking her death, and what she'd said so far. Danny's lips thinned at the mention of Wo Fat killing John to try to get to Doris. "So she thought it was safer letting Wo Fat run around looking for her?" he said, frowning.
"I don't know what she thinks," Steve replied. "She was about to explain why Wo Fat was after her when Chin called about the Manus case. Just a lead they're following up," he said, seeing Danny about to ask. "Nothing new yet." He nudged Danny towards the dining room. "Come on, you should hear what she has to say."
They joined Doris, who was sifting through the items in the toolbox with the air of someone just looking for distraction. "Everything all right?" she asked.
"What do you think?" Steve bit out.
"Sorry, I just meant...." she waved in the direction of his phone before turning her eyes to Danny. "Danno," she said with a nod.
"Actually, I prefer Danny."
"That's not what my son called you."
"Your son has earned the right," he said, stepping closer until his arm brushed against Steve's.
Steve managed not to lean into Danny's warmth, but only just. "You were talking about the limits to our powers," Steve prompted her.
"Right. There are limits. You've both figured out the one minute rule, right?" At their nods, she continued, "Sometimes, we can push it further. Usually it's extreme circumstances, and when it's managed, the Tutela decide we're dangerous. They come after us."
"Have you used your powers since then?"
"Of course. We're usually put into situations where we have to use them. We can't stand by and do nothing."
Unless we have no idea we have them, Steve thought. "So what did you do?"
"That's a long story. The important part is that Wo Fat made it his mission to get me. And when I eluded him, it didn't sit right. By the time he'd managed to get the information out of my friend about me still being alive, he was obsessed. He's spent the years since trying to track me down."
"So if you really left to keep us safe," Steve said, hands balling into fists, "why are you back when you know he's here?"
"Because your powers have become active again. And he's noticed."
Steve blinked. "Again?"
Doris nodded. "I don't know if you remember, but you had them before I...left."
"I thought so," Steve said. "But I wasn't sure."
"You'd had a few incidents over the years--much earlier than usual. Usually they don't start showing until you're in your teens, but you started having them early on."
Steve glanced at Danny, who looked as startled as he felt. "So it's unusual for kids to have them?"
"Very." She looked between the two of them, then fixed her eyes on Danny. "Did yours start earlier than usual?" she asked.
"Pretty much from birth."
Steve may not have seen his mother for twenty years, but he didn't need to know her well to recognize that look. "What?" he asked.
"Nothing, it's just...odd. You both had them early and you're..." she waved a hand between them, "so...together."
Steve cocked his head. "Together?"
"Like an old married couple, when I know you haven't been together that long."
How did she know that? And where was she getting her info? "Just how much do you know?"
Doris sighed. "I felt ripples," she said with a slight shrug. "Familiar ones. We may not know about the incidents of other TLs, she said, but we can usually feel something. You get to know what that feeling means after a while. But yours were stronger," she said, nodding at Steve. "I knew they were you from when you were a kid."
Steve and Danny exchanged a look. "You don’t experience the incidents of others?" Steve asked.
"Yeah, I mean you both have powers, you know how--" She blinked. Hard. "You experience other TL's incidents?"
"As far as we can tell we've been experiencing each others' for years," Steve said.
He could tell that wasn't a good thing. "Does Wo Fat know this?"
"Not as far as we know."
"You can't let him know that." The urgency in her voice was jarring. "Who else knows?"
"Only a few people we trust implicitly."
"He can't know anyone else knows," she said hurriedly. "No one can. They'll be in danger if the Tutela find out."
Steve couldn't help it this time, he leaned into Danny, needing the support. "We kind of guessed as much," Danny said. "We've taken steps to minimize the risk."
Doris nodded. "You can rewind, right?" she asked him. At his nod, she said, "Interesting."
"Interesting?" Danny asked. "How is that interesting?"
"It's just...you have complementary powers. And you're clearly drawn to each other."
Danny huffed. "I'll say--apparently I moved 5,000 miles because of him."
Doris stared for a moment. "What?"
"Something kept drawing me to Hawaii from the moment he stopped time when you died...or whatever," Danny said, and Steve felt a little better at the dark look Danny gave her for that. "Best we can figure is that something was pulling us together."
"No wonder Wo Fat is so busy these days."
"What's that supposed to mean?" When she didn't answer, he took a couple of steps closer to her, looming over her like a suspect. "What are you not telling us?"
She wet her lips, studying them both for a moment before she spoke. "What the two of you have been experiencing is...odd. Not the normal experience for us. You should sort of sense when someone else has used their powers, maybe even easily for someone closely related by blood, but to experience each others' incidents with so much distance and from an early age, to even have them at an early age...to the best of my knowledge, it's unheard of."
"So if you didn't know exactly what was going on, why did you come back? Why now?"
"I knew Wo Fat had been busy. I knew he'd killed John, I just hadn't let myself think about it quite like you said...anyway. I also knew your powers had become active again."
"You said that before," Steve said. "What do you mean, 'again'?"
Doris fidgeted with one of the photos on the table. "When I left," she said carefully, "your powers seemed to go dormant. You didn't have any more incidents." She looked up at him. "I was hoping that they would stay hidden, so you would be safe."
"What do you mean, safe?"
"The last message I got from Wo Fat before I faked my death was that if my children showed any signs of being as powerful as me, he was going after them before they were too dangerous."
Steve felt Danny's hand reach for his, fingers lacing together, grounding him as he took a deep breath. "So he threatened me and Mary outright?"
Doris nodded. "Mary had yet to show any signs--as far as I've been able to tell, she doesn't have the powers. If she does, they're so hidden she doesn't know it. But you...I knew with yours starting so early, Wo Fat would see you as a threat. I had to disappear. And sometimes an emotional upheaval can cause them to go dormant, so I thought if I died...."
"That my powers would go into hiding and I'd be safe." Steve felt Danny squeeze his hand. "One more way your death would protect us?"
She nodded again. "I'm sorry, if there'd been any other way...but that was the only way that even stood a chance in hell."
Steve's phone rang, and he shook himself, pulling it out of his pocket and seeing Chin's name on the screen before he answered.
"Sorry to interrupt," Chin said, "but we've got an address where we think Manus is holed up."
"Text me the address," Steve said. "Danny and I will meet you there." He hung up and looked at Danny. "Found Manus," he said before turning to Doris. "We have to go to work. Can I trust you to still be here when we get back?"
"I didn't come all this way just to run before you're safe."
Steve nodded. "We'll be back as soon as we can," he said and turned to leave.
He looked over his shoulder. "Yeah?"
"Just be careful."
He sensed she wasn't insulting his ability to do his job so much as warning him to watch out for using his powers. "Yeah," he said before following Danny out the door.
Danny watched Steve drive, eyes on the road, both hands on the wheel, as if he needed every ounce of attention on his driving. Which was bullshit--he'd seen Steve drive like an Indy driver on Tantalus with one hand on the wheel, yelling at Danny the whole way.
He figured Steve should've learned better by now. He might have a chance at avoiding the conversation that way in a very short drive. Maybe.
Unfortunately for Steve, it was not a short drive.
"So," Danny said, cataloging every one of Steve's reactions, not missing the way his hands tightened on the wheel. "Your mom. Not dead."
The words sounded like they'd barely escaped Steve's strangled throat, but Danny persisted. "You okay with that?"
Steve spared him a glance, brow furrowed into a deep V. "Who wouldn't be happy to have their mother return from the dead, Danny?"
"I'm sure Joan Crawford's kids might have some issues," Danny muttered. "But I meant more how are you doing with the fact that she's been hiding and pretending to be dead for half your life."
He could hear Steve's left foot tapping against the floor board. "I'm fine," he snapped.
"Right. Because that sudden revelation wouldn't rattle anyone."
"What do you want me to say, Danny?" Steve asked. "Am I pissed? Of course. Do I want answers? Yes. Am I anxious to get back home and get them? Absolutely." He glanced at Danny again. "But right now we have a job to do and I need to focus on that. So can we save the psychoanalysis for the ride home, please?"
Danny considered that for a moment. "So the thing about our powers being so...connected, that was interesting."
"Seriously, what is with you and the psychoanalyzing in the car?" Steve thumped the driver's seat. "Does this thing look like a couch to you?"
"Well, it does lie down flat."
Steve glared at him. "I get that you have this pathological need to talk everything out--"
"Which, by the way, is another complimentary power, since you would rather lock everything away."
Steve ignored that. "But I," he continued, "need to focus on the case. I can't have distractions. It's why I'm so good at, as you put it, locking everything away. Because it helps me do my job."
"So we'll talk on the way home?" Danny pushed, refusing to give in completely.
Steve clenched his jaw. "When the case is over," he said, "we will talk until even you get hoarse," Steve said. "Just...I can't deal with all that right now."
Danny thought he got it a little better now. He was motivated by his emotions, they fueled his work. His compassion, his sense of right and wrong, and his belief in what he did made him a better cop. He knew plenty of cops who locked it all away until one day they ran out of room, and the aftermath of that was never pretty.
He'd just have to make sure Steve found a balance. If that meant forcing him to talk, so be it. And if it meant shutting up at the right times, Danny could handle that, too.
That Manus would be home was unexpected. That he was armed was not. That the combination ended up with their team and several members of HPD trapped behind cars being shot at was inevitable.
Steve was seriously out of patience. "I'm going to sneak in the back and disarm him," he said to Danny, giving him a look that he hoped translated to 'I'm going to stop time.'
"Let me come with you."
"No, if anything goes wrong, you need to be out here."
He could tell Danny didn't like it, but he nodded, and Steve crept carefully away. He used the cover of bushes to get around behind the house, nodding to the HPD officers making sure Manus didn't escape out the back. When he reached the break in the hedge, he asked the cop stationed there if he'd seen any sign of someone watching the back door.
"Nothing," the officer said. "You ask me, the guy's lolo--they don't exactly think, you know?"
Steve nodded and made his way quickly to the back door. He winced as the screen creaked, but there was no break in the gunfire or ranting from the front room. Once inside the door and out of sight, Steve reached for time, willing it to slow to a stop.
He tried a few more times, but the noise from the front room continued, distracting and annoying on a day he really didn't need it.
"Fuck it," he muttered and moved in, taking Manus out with practiced skill, calling out the all clear when Manus was on the ground, face first, with Steve's knee in his back.
Danny's frown as he came in spoke volumes. "Everything okay?" he asked.
"Fine." Steve wasn't about to get into a discussion about his powers not working there. They could add it to the agenda he was sure Danny had in his head for the ride back to the house.
That seemed to be all Danny wanted to hear then, though, as he nodded and helped Steve get Manus to his feet. They handed him over to HPD and joined Chin and Kono as they watched Manus being stuffed into the back of a patrol car.
"So," Chin said, "anyone for breakfast?"
Danny gave Steve a look, and Steve sighed. "Actually, we have something we need to take care of. Can you guys deal with Manus?"
"Sure," Chin said. "Anything we should know about?"
Steve looked around, lowering his voice to a near whisper. "My mother showed up at the house this morning."
Chin and Kono exchanged a look. "Your mom died in a car wreck years ago," Chin said. "Your dad told me about it."
"Apparently not," Steve said. "I don't know much, so we need to get back and figure out what's going on." He looked around again. "Look, apparently she's here because something about this thing Danny and I have is dangerous. So just...stop looking for the moment, okay? Until we find out what's going on?"
"Sure," Kono said, putting her hand on Chin's arm to keep him from saying anything. "Are we in danger?"
"How much poking around did you do?" Danny asked.
Chin shrugged. "We searched the internet, and I reached out to a few people I've met over the years about situations that fit your powers, but no mention of anything that you told us. Just said we were investigating a series of incidents."
"You should be okay," Steve said. "If they even know you're looking, they'll just think you don't know anything."
"They?" Kono asked.
"It's complicated, and we don't have the whole story." Steve sighed. "Let us go back and talk to her, and we'll call you, okay?"
They exchanged another look, then both nodded. "Call us sooner if you need anything," Chin said.
"We will." Steve gave him a smile. "Thanks."
"We're a team, right?"
Steve nodded. "Right. A team."
Danny watched Steve as he pulled away from the crime scene. His eyes were on the road, but it didn't take a genius to know his mind was elsewhere. But he'd told Danny they could talk on the way back, and they needed to talk before they got home, where Steve's mother had better be sitting there waiting.
"So what happened with your powers back there?" Danny asked.
"Obviously. Since they didn't work. But why?"
Steve huffed out an annoyed breath. "I don't know why, Danny. I reached for them and they weren't there."
Not a total surprise--Steve hadn't had much luck with them when he was stressed. It was one of the reasons Danny had wanted to go with him into the house, the other being that he wanted to be there if anything happened. He couldn't shake the worry that something was going to happen to Steve now that Danny had saved him. "It's okay, though. You got the job done."
"And what if I'd needed my powers?" Steve asked, sparing Danny a glance. "What if something had happened and I couldn't do anything?"
That brief look at his eyes made Danny's throat hurt. "Hey," he said softly, putting his hand on Steve's thigh. "You've been very effective your whole career without them," he reminded Steve. "You'd take care of it. You did take care of it."
"But I could've been much safer about it if I'd been able to control my damn powers," Steve said. "What if he'd hurt someone out there while I was taking him down?"
"But what if he had?"
Danny looked out at the road and spotted an overlook ahead. "Pull over up there."
Steve all but growled, but he did as Danny asked, slamming the car into park. "Why are we sitting here?" he asked, turning in the seat a little to face Danny.
"Because I didn't want to die in a fiery crash because you were freaking out."
"I am not freaking out."
"Okay, fine, whatever you want to call it." Danny ran a hand through his hair. "Look, our powers aren't perfect, okay? They're not some magic card. They're a tool. A weapon. Like a gun." Danny patted his gun on his hip. "You ever had a gun jam in the field?" After a moment, Steve nodded. "Okay, was that your fault?"
Steve shook his head. "But our powers--"
"Are a tool. And like any tool, sometimes they fail through no fault of our own. Just like a weapon, we'll continue to train on them. And we'll get better. But if we miss or they jam, we can't beat ourselves up. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about here."
Steve looked at him for a long moment. "How old were you?"
"The first time they failed and you didn't save someone?"
That brought Danny up short. "How do you know that happened?"
"Because you're too sure of what you're saying."
Danny sighed. "I was seventeen," he said. "First snow of the winter, and we were outside being idiots--throwing snowballs at each other or something, I don't know--when this car spun out in front of the house. Slammed into a tree, and I tried. I reached for time and tried to rewind it, though what the hell I would've done if I had I don't know. But it didn't work. Time just kept moving on, and the driver stayed dead."
"And you figured out that whole thing about it being like a tool or a weapon then?"
"Hell no. I beat myself up for weeks. Until the next time I saved someone, if I'm honest. I wasn't sure they would work again until I actually managed it." He moved his hand to Steve's shoulder. "But I figured it out eventually, and learned to live with the failures by remembering the successes. And knowing that there's only so much that even I can do."
"Wise words there, Danno," Steve said with a hint of a grin.
"Wise enough to make you stop beating yourself up?"
One shoulder lifted in a half shrug. "Maybe."
"I'll take it," Danny said, reaching up to cup the side of Steve's cheek. "Just don't beat yourself up in silence, okay? Talk to me."
He knew it was a tough request, but after a moment, Steve nodded. "I'll try."
It was the best he was going to get. "Okay, then let's go home and see what your mother has to say about all this."
Steve put the car in gear. "Maybe by the time we get there," he said as he pulled out onto the road, "I'll be used to the idea of my mother being alive, let alone home."
Danny could tell Doris had been pacing in front of the coffee table when they got home. She stopped three steps in and studied both of them as if looking for damage. "Anything unusual happen?" she asked after a moment.
"Well, my powers didn't work," Steve said, "but then you said emotional upheaval did that, so...."
Steve's expression showed that he clearly meant she was the cause of it. "I'm sorry," she said, but the words sounded hollow, even to Danny's ears. "I'm sorry if it caused problems on your case, but I'm not sorry you weren't able to use them."
"Really? Would you be sorry if my inability to use them had gotten someone killed? Because I can list the times that those powers could've saved someone's life if I'd known, if I'd been able to use them--"
"You can list one, maybe two," she countered. "But you'd have been dead at Wo Fat's hand before you got too far, Steve. You don't understand--"
"You're right, I don't, Doris! So why don't you explain it in a way that makes sense, huh? Because so far none of this does, and I'd really like it to make sense, so that I can stop wishing you had just stayed dead!"
Danny put his hand on Steve's arm. "Okay," he said, his voice low, feeling the buzz through Steve's skin, the anger a tangible thing, like electricity. Danny tried to project calm into that weird connection between them, both startled and glad when he felt the buzz in Steve's skin lessen, become a little more muted. "Nobody's going to figure out anything if we don't calm down and talk like civilized people."
"Civilized people?" Steve's harsh laugh hurt Danny to hear. "How do civilized people talk, anyway? After all, we're superheroes, not people, right?" He turned to look at Danny, the pain in his eyes hurting more than the laugh had. "Or monsters, apparently, at least according to some."
"Steven," Danny said softly, tightening his grip on Steve's arm just a little, trying to project that same sense of calm through the touch and into Steve's eyes, which were locked on Danny's. "We're the good guys, remember?"
Steve stared at him for a long moment, and Danny could see Steve's breath slowing, returning to something resembling normal. "Right," Steve said finally, shaking himself, breaking their gaze with the motion. "Right."
He turned to look at Doris, and Danny followed suit, frowning at the expression on her face. "What's that look for?" Danny asked.
"The two of you," she said, fear tinged with a little awe in her tone. "I've just...it's....." She shrugged and shook her head.
"What?" Steve asked, and Danny was pleased to hear that the tone, while not patient, was nowhere near as close to murderous as before.
Doris seemed to consider her words carefully before she said, "You didn't grow up with this--and no, I know, that's my fault, along with a lot of other things you can flay me for later, but right now, just let me explain, okay?"
At Steve's nod, Doris continued. "Nobody knows where our power comes from," she said slowly, as if she was picking her way through a minefield. "The one thing we do know is that it's usually genetic, passed down from ancestors."
"But my parents don't seem to know anything about it."
"Sometimes it skips a generation, even two or three," she said. "And parents whose children don't show any signs of powers wouldn't be quick to say anything. They'd be grateful and keep quiet."
Danny felt the rise of annoyance in Steve and sidestepped just enough that their arms brushed, calming him again. "Keep quiet?" Steve said, not quite managing neutral, but still not bad, considering.
"We call our powers a gift," Doris said. "But that doesn't mean it's not one that we wouldn't like to save our kids from getting."
"So why tell them at all?" Danny asked. "Why not let them think it's childhood imagination?"
"Because not knowing is more dangerous if the power is there. Imagine going around changing all this with the Tutela watching, not knowing the rules?"
Steve stepped closer, his arm pressed against Danny's. "You mean like Danny?" he said.
Doris nodded. "Your parents have no idea?"
"How could they? They never experienced the rewinds. They thought it was a kid's imagination, and by the time I was old enough for them to question it, I'd learned to keep quiet."
"And your grandparents?"
"I never knew any of them."
She studied him for a long moment. "You said you've had your powers since about birth. What did you mean?"
Danny glanced at Steve before answering. "I remember being born," he said. "I mean, I think I do. Everything stopped as soon as I was born. It was...weird." Danny shuddered in remembrance. "I didn't get what it was like until the day you died and Steve stopped time. I recognized the way everything sounded like a vacuum, and the air was...stale. You know."
"I don't know," Doris said. "My power is echo--rewind, you'd call it. I've never experienced a remora--a time stop."
Danny looked at Steve to find a startled expression on his face that most certainly mirrored the one Danny was wearing. "You've never experienced one?"
Doris shook her head. "I told you, that you two have experienced each others' powers is unheard of as far as I know. The Tutela might have some record of it, but I wouldn't go asking them."
"There's never even been a hint of it?" Steve asked.
"Nothing." She pressed her lips together for a few seconds, and Danny sensed he wasn't going to be too excited about what came out of them next. "There's more," she said, and he could tell the words were reluctant. "There's some kind of...connection between the two of you. I can't explain it, but I can feel it. It's there, and I don't know if it's the powers causing it, or if they're just making what's there naturally stronger. But there's something there."
It wasn't anything Danny hadn't thought he'd sensed between them, but to hear that someone else could sense it was unnerving, to say the least. "Is it that obvious?"
She looked thoughtful for a moment, and he wondered if this was how they'd look after decades of having to watch everything they said for fear of discovery. "I think most people would just chalk it up to your relationship," she said finally. "A lot of new couples look something like that. But Steve's my son. I can feel something, like standing at the edge of a storm, that static electricity that makes your hair stand on end. It's a little like that."
"You think others like us can sense it?" Steve asked.
"Probably not. It's like powers--those people with powers who are related to you can sense when you use them, but to anyone else it's just some weird ripple. Like the idea that someone walked over your grave. A cold shiver, nothing more, and no idea that it can be attributed to anything or anyone."
He felt Steve relax a little, though whether all on his own or in relation to Danny's own slight lessening in tension, he didn't know. "So what about my daughter?" Danny asked.
"How old is she?"
"Most kids her age wouldn't have shown any sign of it yet. Though with your early signs, who knows?"
"When should I know?"
Doris shrugged. "There've been cases as early as twelve, but it almost always shows by sixteen. If she hasn't shown signs of it by then, she probably won't."
"The two of you seem to have singlehandedly rewritten the rules," Doris said. "I'm not sure of anything right now, especially if the two of you are involved in it."
Steve's phone rang. Danny wondered for a second if he was going to ignore it, but after a long look at Doris, Steve pulled the phone out of his pocket. Danny caught a glimpse of Chin's name before Steve answered.
He didn't need the look on Steve's face to tell the news wasn't good. "Okay," Steve said. "Thanks." He hung up, shoving the phone back in his pocket as he looked at Danny. "Sang Min is dead. They found him shanked in the prison shower this morning."
"Shit." Danny moved to the couch and sat down, Steve following along like he was on a tether rope, pressing against Danny's side as he sat. "Did Chin say anything that could've been overheard? Like about why that was important for us to know?"
Steve shook his head. "He and Kono know the danger now. They wouldn't if there was a danger of being overheard."
Doris took the chair beside the couch. "What's going on?"
"Everyone we can find record of that Danny has saved hasn't lived more than a month," Steve said, his hand landing on Danny's thigh, warm and reassuring. "Is that normal?"
Danny was expecting confirmation, but Doris's quick nod and her, "That's pretty consistent, yeah," still caused his heart to sink a little.
Steve gave Danny's thigh a light squeeze. "Pretty consistent?"
"There are occasional exceptions, but most of the time the people don't live much longer. It's like we're here to help right a wrong that they wouldn't have been able to fix if they'd died too soon," she said.
Danny thought of how he'd saved John so that he and Steve could patch up their relationship before John died. And how he'd saved Steve, and now Steve's mother was back, trying to reconcile.
"You said there are exceptions," Steve said, and Danny didn't need the hoarseness in Steve's voice to know that he was thinking the same thing, he could feel it.
He also didn't need any kind of connection to Doris to tell that she was preparing to hide something. "There've been rumors of people managing to stretch their powers, and the outcomes have been...different."
"You, you mean," Steve said.
Steve knew as well as Danny did that Doris was hiding something. "You stretched your powers, you said so. So what happened?"
"I can't tell you."
"Really?" Steve said. "You want us to be in danger from our mistakes?"
"No, I don't want you to be in danger. That's why I can't tell you." Doris swallowed. "But if you value your lives, if you value your daughter's life," she said to Danny, "then you'll stop asking. Because if you know, nobody is safe."
At the mention of Grace's life, Danny had felt the same chill go through Steve that had gone through him. "Okay," Steve said. "Okay." He took a deep breath, and Danny did the same.
"Look, I'll answer what else I can, but do you think maybe we could eat some lunch first? I'm starving."
"Yeah." Steve stood, and Danny followed suit. "Food's probably a good idea. You'll still be here?" Steve asked.
"I told you, I'm not going anywhere until I know you're safe."
Steve felt Danny's eyes on him as he walked out to the car. But Danny kept quiet until they were out onto the street. "We had food in the kitchen," Danny said mildly.
"Then I'm guessing you wanted to talk without her hearing," Danny said. "So talk."
Steve took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I don't even know where to start."
"Well, we could start with the fact that we're apparently an exception to the exceptional," Danny said, holding up a finger. "Or maybe about whether we have to worry about Grace having the same luck." He held up a second finger, then a third. "Or the fact that it's pretty much expected that people die for good not long after I save them, and I just saved you."
"But it might not happen with us," Steve said. Because he needed to believe that. Needed Danny to believe it. "You said it yourself, we're the exception to the exceptional."
He glanced at Danny, who looked dubious. "People are saved to make something right, and your mother's here, Steve. Doesn't that seem a little...coincidental?"
"You know what seems coincidental, Danny? Nothing. That's what. Nothing about our lives seems remotely coincidental. Something has been pushing us together since birth. Literally. You think it did that just so you could save me to reconcile with my mother? That whatever or whoever controls this decided to invest that much into us just for something it could've achieved by just not giving her powers in the first place? Really?"
He could still feel Danny watching him, and a glance told him Danny wasn't entirely convinced. But after a moment, Danny nodded. "Okay," he said.
Steve loosened his grip on the steering wheel just a bit. "There's something you left off the list," Steve said.
"Not what. Who. Wo Fat."
"If he's after your mother then he's going to be watching us," Danny said.
Steve could tell Danny already knew what was coming next. "Which means he's got to be close, and we can use that."
"So, what, you want to go stop time in the middle of Kalakaua Avenue?"
"No. But we've been practicing. All we need to do is keep practicing. He's bound to pick up on something."
"And when he brings all his little witch hunting friends to come kill us?" Danny asked. "What then? Huh? What about Grace? What if she's around when he comes for us?"
Steve swallowed carefully, knowing Danny was going to hate the suggestion. But it was the only way she'd be remotely safe now. "She should spend a couple of days at Rachel's, Danny."
"No. She's safer with me."
Steve pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant and switched off the car. "Normally, yes. She's absolutely safer with you. But Wo Fat is coming for us, and there's nothing we can do about it."
"We don't know that."
"No, but we're pretty sure. And I'm betting we can get confirmation. So Grace spends a couple of days at Rachel's, and we make sure she's well protected."
He didn't need Danny's expression to know how much he hated the idea--he could feel the waves of emotion from Danny like water, lapping at Steve's skin, a constant presence since Doris had showed up that morning. "I don't like it," Danny said at last, which was, for him, as good as capitulation.
"I know. I don't either." Steve gave Danny's arm a squeeze. "All the more reason to get the whole thing over with."
"Just promise me one thing," Danny said, his hand on the door handle.
"Promise me," Danny said, "that when we've got Wo Fat, you'll still be breathing."
Steve pressed his lips together, refusing to treat the comment as flip. He got it, and it deserved a grave answer. "I'll be fine," Steve said. "Because I know you won't let anything happen to me."
After a moment, Danny nodded. "Then let's hurry up so we can get this all over with."
Steve got up to the counter to order when he realized something. "I have no idea what she would eat," he said to Danny.
Danny shrugged. "It's not like she's ever given you a chance to learn that. She can eat whatever you get and like it."
Steve felt a little bit of a warm glow at Danny's obvious annoyance at Doris's behavior. It felt good to have someone angry on his behalf. He ordered turkey, no cheese, and figured that was safe enough.
It was only while they were waiting that Steve realized something else--that connection he'd felt to Danny back at the house had lessened again. "Hey, Danny?"
Steve looked around, and lowered his voice to a near whisper. "Earlier, at the house, when things got...intense, did you notice anything weird about...us?"
"What do you mean, weird?"
"It was like...like I could feel you, or something."
"Yeah, I think I know what you mean."
Steve bit his lip to keep from saying anything that might give away what they were talking about. "It's not like that now," he said finally. Because he could still tell where Danny was, even with his eyes closed, and had been able to since almost the first day they met. But it wasn't like before.
"We should ask somebody who knows about these things," Danny said.
Translation: Doris. Steve was reluctant to ask her about anything to do with his relationship with Danny, but he didn't think it was wise to pass up the chance to ask while she was there.
He didn't doubt she'd be gone soon enough.
Steve glanced at Danny, raising an eyebrow. Danny just gave him a small grin, almost a smirk, really, until Steve felt his mood lighten a little. He bumped his arm against Danny's, the move helping even more.
"McGarrett!" The woman behind the counter held up the bag of food, looking into the waiting area like it was a crowd, even though there was only four people there.
Steve waited until they were seated at the dining room table, just starting to eat, to go back to the subject of Wo Fat. "So, Danny and I talked while we were gone."
"Really? And here I thought you went out because you were completely out of food."
The tone was undeserved by him and unearned by her, but Steve didn't want to rise to the bait. "We want to draw Wo Fat out."
"That's a bad idea."
"You have a better one?"
Doris looked at Danny, but Steve didn't need to look over there to know Danny wasn't going to be any help to her. "Are you ready to put your daughter in that kind of danger?" she asked him.
"What, would you rather him abandon her and run away?" Steve answered. He felt Danny's ankle against his own as Steve struggled to breathe evenly. He didn't want to give her the satisfaction of upsetting him any further.
Doris's eyes welled up, but she didn't cry outright. "I had my reasons for protecting you."
"Yeah, well, if you don't mind, we'll protect Grace in our own way," Steve said. "Yours doesn't really appeal to me."
"Okay," Danny said, and Steve could feel those same waves from Danny again, as if he was projecting calm, for lack of a better way to describe it. "I trust Steve with Grace's life," Danny said quietly. "We agree that this is the best way to handle it. That's the end of that discussion."
Doris's lips thinned, but after a few seconds she nodded. "Do you have somewhere safe for her to stay?"
"She can stay with her mother," Danny said. "We'll have protection there for her until this is over."
"I still have some connections here," Doris said. "A few friends with powers who could do more than the police if things went bad. I can get them to watch as well--from a distance," she added, as Steve opened his mouth. "Nothing to connect her to them. I didn't come back here to put anyone in danger. I came to help."
Steve couldn't help scoffing at that, just a little, but Danny's foot pressing on his a little stopped him from actually commenting. He just nodded, as close to a thank you as he could manage, using his sandwich as an excuse not to say anything else.
"Can I ask you something about the powers?" Danny said to Doris.
His tone was a lot nicer than Steve would've used, but he knew Danny's techniques by now, and recognized it from interviewing suspects who didn't know they were being interviewed.
"Sure," Doris said. "I'll answer what I can."
"You mentioned the connection between Steve and I earlier. When one of us is upset, it seems stronger. Like we're more connected. Does that ring any bells?"
She thought about it for a moment. "I know there are some who have been together for a long time can sense each other," she said at last. "Especially when emotions are heightened. But for the two of you to have been together for such a short time...it's unusual."
Unusual. Strange. Rewriting the rules. Steve was tired of not having the rules in a nice, neat little book. "So we're just supposed to go blindly through all of this and hope we don't get killed by some of the watcher people?" Steve asked.
"Maybe once Wo Fat is no longer an issue I can reach out to some of my old contacts and see if they have more information," Doris said.
"So you're going to stick around after he's taken care of?" Steve said, not sure how he felt about that.
She shrugged, watching him carefully. "I'd like to...if I'm welcome."
And there was the million dollar question. The kid in the corner of his mind who'd lost his mother wanted her to stay. Wanted to put her under lock and key and never let her leave again.
But he wasn't that kid any longer.
His phone rang, saving him from having to answer her. He pulled out his phone and saw Chin's name. "McGarrett," Steve said into the phone as he got up and went into the kitchen for a little privacy.
"Manus sang like a canary," Chin said. "D.A. has an airtight case on the confession alone."
"How are things going there?"
Steve sighed. "It's probably safer that you don't know what's going on here."
"Seriously?" Chin didn't quite sound annoyed, but it was close. "You know Kono and I signed on for this, right?"
For police work, sure. To take on something like this...Steve wasn't so sure. "I don't want the two of you in danger for this."
"I hate to break it to you, brah, but we face death pretty much daily. I don't think this could be any different."
His Dad would've fought it tooth and nail. His mother would get that sour face she'd had every time things hadn't gone her way.
And he and Danny would have two people at their back they could trust.
"Why don't you and Kono come over?"
"We're on the way."
Danny practically had to grip the chair to keep from following Steve out of the room. Not just because he wanted to know what Chin had to say, but it would keep him from sitting there and letting Steve's mother study him like some kind of dirt that wasn't good enough for her son to walk on.
Or possibly he had some latent mother-in-law issues he really need to work out.
"So, you're from New Jersey?" Doris said after the silence had become somewhat uncomfortable.
"And you decided to move to Hawaii?"
Her almost unblinking stare was unnerving, but Danny had faced down tougher perps than her. "Yup."
"And how long have you been sleeping with my son?"
Or possibly not. "I'm going to go see what Chin had to say about the case," Danny said, jumping out of his chair.
He'd made it to the doorway when Steve came back. "Something wrong?" Steve asked, as he shoved his phone into his pocket.
"Nope. Nothing. Not a thing. Something wrong with Manus?"
Steve shook his head. "Couldn't confess fast enough. They're done, so Chin and Kono are on their way here."
"They're what?" Doris asked, getting up and joining them at the doorway.
"They're on their way here to help us plan."
Danny didn't miss the slightly satisfied smirk on Steve's face as he turned and headed for the couch. Danny followed, but it was a few seconds before Doris joined them.
"You're going to risk their lives by getting them involved in this?" she asked, as she took the chair again.
Danny settled onto the couch beside Steve as he said, "No, they're cops, and they're part of our team. They signed on to serve and protect, so that's what they're going to do."
"This isn't their fight."
Steve was eying her levelly, and Danny didn't sense as much of the anger as he had earlier. "It is now."
His tone didn't really leave her a lot of room to argue, and she seemed to realize it. "Okay. It's your show."
Danny didn't even need to look at Steve to know the words were what he wanted to hear. "Good, then we do things my way."
"With your input--you know some of this better than I do. But I know things you don't, too. And they're my team."
Doris let out a breath, then gave a curt nod. "Okay."
"Good, then let's talk about Wo Fat."
Steve had just about finished filling Doris in on what they knew about Wo Fat and his associates when there was a knock at the door. He got up and let Chin and Kono in, making the introductions as they sat down.
His mother remembered Chin from before, commenting on how much he'd grown. Steve absolutely did not smirk at Chin's somewhat reserved, "Twenty years does that."
Okay, he didn't smirk much.
"We've been filling Doris in on what we know about Wo Fat," Steve said, taking his seat beside Danny. "She was just about to tell us what we don't know."
At Doris's nervous glance at Chin and Kono, Steve said, "They already know about our powers. Why don't you start with the Tutela?"
Doris didn't look happy about it, but she explained about the Tutela's purpose, and her background with Wo Fat. "If he doesn't know I'm back in Honolulu already, he will soon. And he's not going to waste time."
"That means if he's not here, he'll be on his way back," Steve said. "And we need to be ready for him."
"What's the plan then?" Kono asked. "Sit back and wait?"
"We're going to draw him out," Steve said, looking at Danny. "He'll likely know that we're using our powers if we practice. So he'll come find us."
Chin frowned. "He knows when you guys use your powers?"
His hand wave included all three of them, but Doris shook her head. "The Tutela kind of know when most of us use our powers. But Steve and Danny...they're a little stronger. He'll know."
"A little stronger?" Kono asked. "How so?"
Doris shrugged. "They've got abilities I've never seen."
"So no one else can stop time or rewind?" Chin asked.
"No, not that--those are standard abilities. But theirs are different. Stronger. And connected."
Steve was starting to feel like a lab rat under discussion, and he sensed Danny wasn't much happier about the conversation. "Now that we've established that," Steve said, "let's talk about how to be ready for him when he comes.
They'd formulated a plan and a couple of contingencies, after a thorough plan for Grace's safety, when Danny checked his watch. "Gotta go get Grace," he said, standing up, favoring his knee a little.
"I'll come with you," Steve said.
"No, stay here and work out the details." He knew Steve wanted the break, but one of them needed to be here to keep planning. "I'll be back with Grace in a few minutes."
"I'll walk you out, then."
Danny didn't argue, he just let Steve follow him out to the car. Danny paused before opening the car door. "Don't kill your mother while I'm gone, all right?"
"I'm not going to kill her."
"Good." Danny leaned in for a kiss. "I'd hate to have to bring Grace to visit you in prison."
Steve smiled. "Hurry back."
"Well, I'm not promising to drive as crazy as you, but I might break the speed limit a time or two."
Steve's grin was reassuring as he said, "Good."
Danny had just parked the car when students started streaming out of Grace's school. Grace appeared mid-stream, running to the car and jumping in with a quick, "Hi, Danno!" as she buckled her seatbelt.
"Hey, Monkey. How was school?"
He listened to her chatter about her classmates as he pulled back out onto the street. By the time they were nearly to Steve's, she'd run out of stories. "How was your day?" she asked.
The way she scrunched up her face when she wasn't sure about something was always cute, and he wasn't looking forward to the day when she thought she knew everything and it disappeared. "What's that mean?"
"Just some stuff happened." Danny took a deep breath. "You remember the woman who came to the house this morning?" He marveled for a second at how easily it had become just 'the house.' Not 'Steve's house.' More like their house. Home.
"That was Steve's mom."
He could see her working through that. "I thought Steve's mom died."
"It's kind of a long story, but she's very much alive, and she's still at the house."
"So...is she staying?"
"I don't know yet." Danny turned off the main road onto the drive up to the house. "But when you meet her, let's not talk about how we thought she was dead, okay?"
Grace nodded, but she kept looking at him like something was wrong until finally, she said, "Is Steve okay?"
"I'd be kind of freaked out if my mom came back from the dead." Grace's eyes widened. "She's not a zombie, is she?"
"No, she's not a zombie. There's no such thing as zombies."
"Oh. Good." She settled down again. "But Steve's okay?"
Danny considered how to answer that honestly without saying too much for a nine-year-old to handle. "He'll be fine," Danny said after a moment. "It's just a surprise. He needs some time to get used to it."
"Good." Her face scrunched up for a few seconds before she asked, "So if that lady is Steve's mom, does that make her my grandmother?"
Danny took a deep breath and prayed for patience and the ability to keep himself from making Steve's mother's death a reality.
They'd shored up a few weaknesses in their plan by the time Steve heard the front door open again. He stood, but before he could move, Grace had run across the room and thrown her arms around him, her nose poking him in the stomach.
He'd have to ask Danny some time if Grace's hugs had some kind of special power he didn't know about. "Well hello to you, too," Steve said, grinning down at her. "What's this for?"
She looked up at him without releasing him. "I missed you."
He glanced at Danny, the fond expression he found there settling his emotions even more than Grace's hug. "I missed you, too," Steve said, ruffling her hair.
"Grace," Danny said, and Grace let Steve go to look at her father. Danny nodded at Doris. "This is...."
He looked at Steve, clearly unsure what to have Grace call her. "Doris," Steve supplied. He wasn't ready to let her use Mrs. McGarrett, and besides, he wasn't entirely sure she deserved the respect of the title, or the even greater honor of Auntie. She hadn't earned much of anything yet as far as he was concerned.
"Doris," Danny said. "Doris, this is my daughter, Grace."
"Nice to meet you," Doris said.
"You, too." Grace's tone was cool, as if she wasn't quite sure what to make of Doris. Or maybe she was just feeding off the emotions of the adults in the room.
It hadn't taken Steve long to realize that Kono and Chin were both annoyed with Doris on his behalf, and to say the mood in the room was tense was understating things just a little. Steve looked at Danny, wondering if he'd said anything to Grace about staying at Rachel's. Danny shook his head, so Steve inclined his head towards the stairs, and Danny nodded.
"Okay, nobody told us you guys were telepathic," Kono said.
Steve blinked at her. "What?"
"You're going to tell me that the two of you didn't just have a total telepathic conversation?" she asked.
"I, uh...." Steve looked at Danny, who just shrugged. Great, he was on his own.
"See," Chin said, "there you go again."
Steve was trying to figure out how to deny that power when he looked closer and realized they were teasing. "Hey, you never know when it might come in handy," Steve said.
"What's telepathic?" Grace asked.
Steve grimaced at Danny, who grabbed Grace's hand. "Let's go get you out of your school uniform," Danny said, heading for the stairs. Steve was following close behind.
They closed the door to Grace's room as she pulled clothes out of the drawers. Danny realized over half her clothes were in the drawers there already. Which was fine, since they'd been back to the house he'd been renting for two nights total since John had died.
Oh well, Steve didn't seem to mind that they'd pretty much moved in, and Danny wasn't about to complain. "Hey, Monkey, let's talk for a minute before you change, okay?"
She had the worried face on that he remembered all too well from the day he and Rachel had told her they were getting divorced. "Is something wrong?" she asked.
"No. No, everything's fine," he said, hoping there was nothing in the rules about lying to his kid. "But Steve's mom has something she needs us to help with. And we're going to be in and out a lot, so you're gonna go stay with your mom for a couple of days, okay?"
Her frown grew deeper. "I don't wanna stay with mom. I wanna stay with you and Steve."
"I know, and I promise, as soon as we're done, you'll be back here. Okay?"
Grace studied Danny before turning to Steve, and studying him as well. "You want to help your mom?"
Steve swallowed carefully. "I need to help her. She's my mother."
After a long moment, Grace nodded. "Then you should help her," she said, turning back to Danny. "Just a couple of days?"
"Two or three, I think." He hoped. Because if it was longer he didn't know what he'd do without Grace.
"Good." He kissed her on the forehead. "You wanna get changed, and then we can pack your stuff?"
She nodded and grabbed her clothes before running out the door to the bathroom down the hall. Danny sat on the bed, staring after her until Steve sat down beside him.
"I'm sorry," Steve said.
Danny turned to look at him. "For what?"
"My mess causing you to have to send Grace away."
"No," Danny said. "It's not your mess. It's our...heritage? Birthright? Whatever," he said with a dismissive wave. "It's our powers and we have to deal with it. Together"
"And it's my mother that's the reason we have to deal with it."
Danny shook his head. "No, it's the Tutela and Wo Fat. Your mother was just caught up in it, same as us."
"No, not the same as us," Steve said, and Danny knew that set of his jaw meant trouble. "You chose to stay with your daughter and keep her close instead of running away to protect her."
"And yet five seconds after I learned the psycho Tutela guy is probably coming after me, I'm sending her away."
"It's not the same thing, Danny."
It wasn't. And he knew it. But he also knew if the only way he could protect Grace was to pretend he was dead, he'd do it. And he wouldn't think twice. But he didn't think Steve was quite in the mood to hear that, even if he knew that if he asked, Steve would say the same thing when it came to protecting Grace.
So he ignored it. "You gonna come with us to Rachel's?"
Steve looked surprised by the offer. "I'd like to, yeah."
"Good." Might as well get that introduction over with, though Danny didn't kid himself that at least part of the reason he wanted Steve there was for backup when Rachel realized they were inviting armed police officers over to her house around the clock to protect Grace.
He'd told Rachel over the phone only that something had come up with the job and he needed her to take Grace for a couple of days. He'd tell her a little more when they got there, but he understood now how important secrecy was to keep their family and friends safe. And if anything happened to him, he wanted Grace to have her mother around.
"Hey," Steve said softly.
Danny raised an eyebrow at him.
"It's gonna be okay. Right?"
Steve tapped his fingers on the steering wheel as he neared Rachel's neighborhood, paying more attention to the road than he really needed to. He thought he was doing a good job of hiding his restlessness , until Danny said, "What?"
Steve blinked at him like he had no idea what Danny was talking about. "What what?"
"What's bothering you?"
He should've known by now he couldn't hide it. "Nothing," he said, flicking his eyes towards the back seat. It wasn't that he didn't want to tell Danny; he just didn't want to do it in front of Grace. Kids had no place in the push and pull between their parents.
"Okay," Danny said in a tone that clearly said the discussion was postponed, not dropped.
When they pulled into the drive, Steve took his time getting out of the car, letting Danny and Grace make their way up to the house first. By the time Steve reached the door, it was already open, and Rachel was escorting them in.
Danny had mentioned Stan was rich, but Steve re-evaluated the definition of rich when he saw the house. He listened as Danny introduced Rachel, managing some form of , "Nice to meet you," in response to hers.
"Grace," Danny said, "why don't you go put your stuff in your room?"
"You're not going to leave without saying goodbye?" Grace asked.
"What, leave without a hug? No way. We'll come say goodbye before we go."
She smiled, and Steve loved that look of complete trust on her face. "Okay," she said before running off up the stairs.
Rachel took one look at them and nodded towards another room. "In here, I think, would be best," she said.
Steve followed behind as Rachel led them into a living room. Of course, it was probably called a sitting room in this house.
"Now," she said, and Steve didn't like her tone or the way she looked at Danny, "would you like to tell me why my daughter is suddenly fleeing to my house because of your job?"
"Fleeing?" Danny said. "I wouldn't call it fleeing. Of course, if having her here will crimp your and Stan's social calendar, I can make other arrangements."
Steve smirked at that--nice reminder that Rachel was more or less at Danny's mercy if she wanted to see her daughter more than once a week.
"I'm always happy to have Grace here," Rachel said sharply. "But I rather got the feeling that she was here because of some kind of danger."
"Steve's mom, Doris, is in town, and she needs our help with something," Danny said, using the story they'd agreed to give anyone who didn't need to know more. Enough to spread the word that Doris was here while making it clear that the person spreading it had no idea what was going on. "We're going to be in and out a lot, so I thought that Grace might be better staying here, if you're going to be here."
Her eyes narrowed--no surprise, Danny was a terrible liar. "What aren't you telling me, Daniel?"
Danny sighed. "Doris is in some trouble. So we also thought it would be safer if Grace was here. And just to make sure she's safe, we're going to have some people watching the house."
"Are we in danger?"
"We're going to make sure you're not. Just...try to stay put most of the weekend, so we know where to find you, okay?"
Rachel wasn't any better at hiding her feelings than Danny was--he wondered how she'd managed to carry on an affair under Danny's nose. Then again, Danny was notoriously loyal and probably wouldn't even have thought she would ever betray him until he was faced with irrefutable proof.
The thought didn't exactly endear Rachel to Steve, and her next comment didn't help. "So you get involved with someone, and suddenly our daughter is in danger, is that it? I thought you had better judgment than that, Danny."
Steve's inhalation was enough to get Danny to put a hand on Steve's arm before he said anything. "The problem goes further than Steve's mom," Danny bit out. "And it involves a lot of people who could get hurt. She's just the one who brought us the information. But when we look into this, we're going to become targets, too. And my judgment told me that Grace would be safer here with you and the protection that I'm providing to ensure her safety. The same reason I go to work every day. If you have a problem with that, I can take her somewhere else."
Steve couldn't help the warm glow of pride, and from Danny's small smile, Steve thought maybe Danny could feel it. Rachel took a deep breath. "All right. We'll stay home for the weekend. Should I call you if I see anything odd?"
"Yes. And don't hesitate, okay? Let me know if anything seems off, no matter how small."
"Thank you, Rachel. Really."
Steve wondered that Danny could be so nice and thoughtful to someone who'd done all that Rachel had done, but then she also was partly responsible for Grace's existence, so even Steve had to cut her some slack for that.
She turned her gaze on him and he wasn't so sure about cutting her slack anymore. "I thought I read that your mother had died."
"Long story," Steve said shortly.
She raised an eyebrow. "Danny," she said, "can I talk to you alone?"
Before Steve could protest, Danny said, "No. Steve stays. Anything you want to say, you can say in front of him."
"So it's like that, is it?"
"It's like that," Danny said. He turned to Steve. "We should get back home."
Steve bit his lip, trying not to show too much of a reaction to Danny calling Steve's house 'home.' "We should."
"We'll just go say goodbye to Grace," Danny said to Rachel.
He guided Steve out of the room, hand firmly on Steve's lower back. Steve knew Rachel was right behind them, and he didn't bother to hide his smile this time.
They found Grace in her room, looking through a book, but she put it down when they walked in. "Are you leaving now?" she asked, not looking happy about it.
"Yeah, sorry, Monkey," Danny said, sitting down on the bed. "We have to go. But you can call me before you go to bed, okay?"
"Okay." She gave him a big hug, and Steve got that warm feeling in his chest he always associated with Danny and Grace. Grace let Danny go and slid off the bed to wrap herself around Steve as well. She looked up at him. "Take care of Danno."
"Always," he said, putting his hand on top of her head and giving her a smile.
They were barely out of Rachel's driveway when Danny asked, "So what was wrong earlier?"
"It wasn't a big deal," Steve said, glad for the need to watch the road. "I was just a little...I don't know, antsy about meeting your ex."
Steve shrugged. He didn't know how to describe it. Maybe he'd just explain. "I don't like that she hurt you," he said in a low voice, eyes firmly on the road. "But if she hadn't, we might not be here."
"It was a long time ago."
"I know. But...."
Danny's hand landed on Steve's thigh, warm and comforting. "Thanks."
Steve glanced at him. "For what?"
"Being indignant on my behalf."
"You're welcome." Steve thought about it for a second. "Though I suspect you could hold your own in the indignant category just fine."
"I can. But it's nice, having someone else do it for me sometimes."
Steve laughed. "Let me know anytime you need it."
Danny kept a close eye on Steve throughout dinner.
After dinner, they went over the plans a few more times--more to have something to talk about that wasn't likely to end up as a fight than because they needed to cover them yet again. Doris finally claimed jet lag, though she wouldn't tell them where she'd flown from to get it, and went to bed.
Grace's call was a welcome break in the tension in the house. Danny stayed in the kitchen, watching Steve clean up while Grace chattered away. She even asked to talk to Steve, and wouldn't tell him why. But the way some of the lines of tension from dealing with his mother smoothed out on Steve's face was worth Danny's curiosity.
Danny hung up with Grace reluctantly, watching as Steve cleaned the same spot on the counter three times before crossing the room and taking the cloth out of his hand. "Come on," Danny said, taking Steve's hand and leading him out of the kitchen.
"Where are we going?"
"Stop asking so many questions," Danny said as he led Steve up the stairs.
"That was only one question," Steve argued, but he followed Danny up to their room--Danny wasn't sure when he'd stopped thinking of it as just Steve's room, much like he'd somehow started thinking of Steve's house as home.
Danny closed the door behind them, turning Steve around sliding his button up shirt off his shoulders. "Tell me something," Danny said, as he tossed the shirt onto the floor, giving Steve a look that dared him to comment about the mess, "why do you wear button up shirts if you never bother to button them?"
"Stop asking so many questions," Steve said, a hint of a smile quirking up the corner of his mouth.
"That was only one question," Danny said. He pulled Steve's t-shirt up over his head and dropped it on the ground before running his hands down Steve's arms, from the tops of his tattoos to his fingertips. The skin and bones were all whole, nothing broken or blemished, and yet Danny could picture Steve falling, slamming into the lower cliff before he tumbled over and out of sight.
Steve moved one hand, placing a finger under Danny's chin and lifting his head until their eyes met. "Hey," Steve said. "Don't think about it."
"Kinda hard not to," Danny said. "It's like it's on a video loop on the back of my eyelids. I can manage it when I'm distracted, to a degree, but otherwise...."
He shuddered, pulling Steve into his arms, the smell and warmth comforting. Steve was alive. And Danny was going to make damn sure he stayed that way, whatever the cost. "How are you not thinking about it every minute?" Danny asked, lips moving against Steve's chest.
"Who says I'm not?"
Danny looked up at Steve's face. While the tone had some humor to it, Danny could see that it wasn't far from the truth. "Okay, then, how do you shove it aside?"
Steve shrugged. "Training? It helps that I have a few other pressing issues to focus on. Like my mother returning from the dead. Or the guy who's after us who might just want to make my death an actual reality." Steve took a deep breath. "And then there's my father."
"What about him?"
"I can't help wondering what else he didn't tell me," Steve said. "I thought we'd gotten all our secrets out in the open. And then I find out that he apparently knew about some of this, but I have no idea what he knew, exactly, or why he knew it."
"He was looking into your mother's death," Danny said. "Maybe he'd gotten as far as figuring out it had something to do with Tempus Latrones and the Tutela. Maybe that's why Wo Fat wanted him dead--we thought it was his investigation into the Yakuza, but maybe it was about the Tutela. Maybe he knew too much, or was about to find out too much. Or maybe Wo Fat thought he knew more than he did."
Steve sighed. "We'll never know, will we?"
"Maybe not. But would it really matter in the end?"
"The truth always matters, Danny."
Danny chose his words carefully. "The truth is that he loved you. And it was his time. Nobody ever gets to say everything they want before they die. It's not fair, but it's true." Danny gave Steve a smile. "But you got to say more than you would have otherwise."
"Thanks to you."
"No, thanks to these powers we have."
Steve closed his eyes for a second. "Point taken," he said, opening his eyes and looking down at Danny.
"Look," Danny said, reluctant to ask, but needing to know the answer. "If it comes down to it, if you face Wo Fat...can you kill him without trying to get an answer if it's necessary?"
"I have no qualms about killing him."
"I know that, but can you do it if it means you may never get the answers you're looking for from him?"
Steve blinked a couple of times. "I'm not going to let him kill me, Danny."
Which wasn't quite the answer to what Danny had asked, but he'd put the thought in Steve's head. He'd let Steve think about it for a bit before asking again. "Good," Danny said, tightening his hold on Steve a little. "Because I've kind of gotten used to you, and I'd like to keep you around."
Steve ducked his head and smiled, and Danny resisted the urge to go back and see him do it again. "So that's why you saved me?" Steve said, grinning. "You've gotten used to me?"
Danny shrugged, matching Steve's grin. "You have your uses."
"Oh, uses, is it?" Steve slid his hands lower, dipping them into Danny's back pockets. "And what would those be?"
"There's so many," Danny said, his hands doing their own exploration of Steve's ass. "Might be easier just to show you."
He leaned up to meet Steve's lips in a kiss. Danny maneuvered his hands in between their bodies to deal with Steve's pants, shoving them down so his hands could have free access to Steve's skin. Steve stepped out of his pants and pulled Danny closer before breaking the kiss to look down at him. "How come I'm naked and you're still fully dressed?"
"Because one of us is clearly more efficient," Danny said, giving him a sunny smile.
"Yes, but that one of us is me."
"You're the one with no clothes, right?"
Steve blinked at him a few times before shaking his head. "Whatever. My point here is that you are wearing far too many clothes."
"You're right," Danny said. "You should fix that."
"Oh, well, if you insist."
Steve made quick work of Danny's clothes before pushing him onto the bed. Danny pulled Steve down onto the bed beside him, rolling onto his side to pull Steve into a kiss. He kept rolling until Steve was under him, his body whole and alive, a fact Danny kept having to remind himself of.
He tried to block out the memory of Steve falling off the cliff, but he kept seeing it in his head, whether he wanted to or not. Steve tugged on the back of Danny's neck until he lifted his head. "Danny," Steve said, his voice soft. "You can't keep thinking about it. You have to let it go."
Steve shrugged. "I can't tell you how to do that for good--it's different for everybody. How do you get past the times you can't get your powers to work?"
Danny thought about the cases gone wrong, about the times he'd gotten there too late, about Grace's lifeless eyes in a meat packing plant in New York, all of Danny's attempts to turn back time failing miserably. "Time," Danny said finally. "The only thing that works is time."
"Well, then," Steve said, rolling them both until Danny was underneath him, "I'll just have to distract you until time takes care of it."
He kissed Danny so thoroughly that Danny wondered if Steve was trying to find the memories and remove them with his tongue. Danny would be perfectly fine with that, for more reasons than just one, if only it was that simple.
Steve broke off the kiss at last, but only to kiss his way down Danny's body, taking his time, slowly driving anything but the feel and smell of Steve out of Danny's mind. Steve's lips and hands were careful, almost reverent, as if Danny was something to be protected. Cherished.
Danny didn't want to lose this. But he couldn't think about it, not with Steve sucking a mark into the pale skin just above Danny's cock. Couldn't think about anything except Steve moving those last few inches and taking Danny's cock into his mouth.
That drove all thought from Danny's head, replacing it with need, as Danny put his hands on Steve's head, holding him in place so Danny could thrust up into his mouth. Danny looked down to find Steve's eyes on him, hot and heavy, letting Danny take whatever he needed until it was all too much and Danny was pouring himself down Steve's throat.
He was vaguely aware of Steve sliding his way back up Danny's body, of Steve's lips on Danny's neck as Steve thrust against Danny's hip. Danny managed to turn himself onto his side, pulling Steve closer, wrapping a leg around Steve's. Steve was thrusting against Danny's stomach, warm and slick with sweat, Danny's still-sensitive cock bumping against Steve's, sending aftershocks through Danny's body each time they touched.
He captured Steve's mouth, feeling Steve's gasp the moment he came, wanting to capture it and keep it safe, store it away for a day he might not have this any longer.
He shoved that thought aside, grounding himself in the here and now by focusing on the feel of Steve's overheated skin under Danny's palms, the sound of Steve's harsh breath in Danny's ear, and the smell of Steve everywhere, as it should be.
After a few minutes, Steve pulled back enough to meet Danny's gaze, his eyes serious as they searched Danny's. "Danny...."
"I love you."
Danny smiled, the words both terrifying and settling something inside him all at the same time. "I love you, too."
Steve's smile helped drive away the demons long enough for Danny to fall asleep.
"Focus on the air around you."
Steve listened to Doris as he closed his eyes, feeling for the air. It sounded weird to say it that way, but there was no other way to describe it. It was like he could feel the air as a tangible thing, each molecule touching his skin part of an overall network, one he could use to eventually stop time.
"Imagine the air stopping, just pausing as if it had decided to take a nap."
The connection to the air slipped through his fingers like sand, and he sighed, opening his eyes. "This is never going to work."
They'd been at this for half an hour, and Steve hadn't managed to stop time once. Every time he thought he had a hold on it, Doris would give helpful advice, and he'd lose the control.
"Why don't we take a break?" Danny suggested.
Easy for him to say; he'd managed to rewind time twice. Doris had suspected, but she hadn't been sure until she'd had confirmation from Steve and Danny. "I can try again," Steve said.
"I know you can," Danny said. "But we're taking a break."
Steve rolled his eyes, but he pushed up off the floor--why Doris had thought the floor would help, he still hadn't figured out--and helped Danny up. Danny's smile warmed Steve, soothing his mood a little, and he managed to ask Doris more or less politely, "Is it this hard for you to call on it?"
"Sometimes," she said. "Sometimes it's automatic. I don't even have to think about it. Other times, it's tougher, but I've had decades of experience and can usually manage it."
She shrugged. "Sometimes all the power you put behind it doesn't matter. When something was meant to happen, it was meant to happen."
She shrugged again. "We don't know. And after a while we stopped asking. Knowing what we can do is enough without knowing how."
Steve wasn't quite buying into that, but he wasn't about to blow her ideas out of the water, either. He didn't know nearly as much about this as she did.
"Hey," Danny said, hand warm on Steve's arm. "Let's get some fresh air, all right?" He looked at Doris. "Give us a minute?"
She nodded, and Danny led Steve outside, only dropping his hand where it rested on Steve's arm when they reached the beach. "You okay?" Danny asked after a minute.
"Okay is a relative term," Steve said. At Danny's raised eyebrow, Steve sighed. "I can't focus."
"You do fine," Danny said, sounding as if he was choosing his words with care, "I can feel it. And then you lose focus."
He wondered if Danny had noticed exactly when the focus disappeared. "At this rate we'll be at this for a week."
Danny studied him for a moment before taking his hand. "Come with me."
He led Steve down to the water until it was lapping at their toes. Danny grabbed Steve's other hand so they were facing each other, standing in the water. "I feel ridiculous," Steve said.
"What, holding my hand?" Danny teased. "Does that mean you don't wanna go steady?"
Steve laughed, resisting the urge to kiss him. "Well when you put it like that...."
"That's what I thought," Danny said. "But that's not really what I had in mind right now."
"So then what are we doing here?"
"I want you to try to stop time."
Steve groaned. "I've been trying that all morning."
"Not all morning. And not like this." Danny squeezed his hands. "Come on. Close your eyes and give it a shot."
Steve sighed, but he did as Danny asked, closing his eyes and feeling for the air. He focused on slowing things, surprised to feel the difference in seconds. The air stilled, as did the ocean that had been dancing around their ankles.
Steve opened his eyes to see Danny smiling up at him. "That was easy," Steve said, confused.
"Doris might know how to talk you through it," Danny said, "but I had a feeling that she was keeping you from it at the same time."
"You lost your focus every time she spoke. Given your feelings about her, I figured they might be getting in the way of your control." Danny shrugged. "Plus, you seem to have some wholly unnatural love of the ocean, so I thought maybe it would help you to be out here."
Steve hadn't thought much about how Danny's sudden entrance into his life had affected him, but he realized now how much some things had changed in such a short time. And how much Danny had figured out about him in that time. But he didn't know how to put any of it into words just yet--though his 'I love you' the night before might've been a good start.
"So we just have to make sure I can stand in the ocean any time I need to stop time and we'll be fine?" Steve joked.
Danny rolled his eyes. "You've done it before without being in the ocean," Danny said. "I just figured it would help you practice."
"Does this really get easier with practice?" Steve asked.
"Yeah." Danny made a face. "I mean, it's never easy in the sense that you can just reach out and do it anytime, all the time. Something or someone or whatever seems to have some rules about that that it hasn't seen fit to share, apparently. But it does get easier the more you understand how it feels."
"Kind of like shooting gets more reflex the more your practice?"
Danny nodded. "The more you can practice, the more reflex it becomes when you need it."
The minute ended, and everything went back to normal. Danny looked at Steve for a moment, then nodded. "Ready to try again?"
"Yeah." Steve held onto Danny's hands and closed his eyes, and reached out, and everything stopped again.
"Look who's controlling time like a master," Danny said, and he was smiling as Steve opened his eyes.
"I don't know about that," Steve said. "But it did feel easier that time."
They did it twice more before Steve said, "You try."
Danny did, and Steve closed his eyes, concentrating on helping Danny focus, the way he'd felt Danny doing for him. He felt the little flip he'd come to recognize as Danny's rewind, but it felt different. He realized quickly that rewind wasn't the only thing that had happened.
He opened his eyes to see Danny's eyes as wide as Steve's felt. "Did you just stop time while I was rewinding it?"
"I don't know--maybe it happened in succession."
"So...what happens when time starts again if you did?"
Steve shrugged. "You're expecting me to know?"
"No." Danny's lips thinned. "Guess we'll find out in a minute. But hey, while we wait, did I tell you what Grace said on the phone this morning?"
Steve knew what Danny was doing, and he appreciated it. The story about Grace distracted him with happier thoughts until time started again.
He felt the weird flip again as soon as time started, the rest of the rewind going into effect. "I guess that answers that," Steve said.
"Okay. I'm gonna guess that's not on the list of approved power use."
"It must be approved by someone," Steve said. "You said yourself that whoever or whatever controls this keeps you from using it when they don't want you to. So clearly it must be approved by the higher ups. Or whatever."
"Maybe," Danny said. "We don't--"
The back door opened, and Steve turned his head to see Doris hurrying through the back yard. "What was that?" she asked once she reached them.
"What was what?" Steve asked, keeping his face blank.
"I felt the ripples," she said, giving him the look he remembered from when he was a kid and wasn't telling her the truth. "Those were strong. What happened?"
Steve looked at Danny and shook his head just a little. If they told her what they'd just managed, she'd flip. And he didn't need that along with everything else.
"We were just practicing," Danny said. "We managed to use our powers several times in a row."
She looked between them for a moment, and Steve could tell she wasn't entirely sure they were telling the truth. "Whatever it was," she said finally, "there's no way Wo Fat doesn't know something's up now."
"How does he know that?" Danny asked. "He's not like us, right?"
Doris shook her head. "Tutela can sense our powers. Every living thing can get a little sense of it, like the hair standing up on the back of your neck, or a shiver you have no explanation for. But Tutela are extra-sensitive to it, and they've learned how to hone the sense."
Steve studied her for a moment. "You're not telling us everything," he said finally. "Does he have other powers?"
"Not that we know of," Doris said, looking as if the words were forced out of her. "He's not Tempus Latrones, but there's been speculation that he's working with one. Nobody has been able to confirm it, though. Some people have tried, but when they were never heard from again...well, it was very effective in making people stop asking questions."
"Maybe we should ask him," Steve said.
"Maybe you should pray you never get the chance, unless you have a death wish," Doris snapped before she turned and stalked back into the house.
They were picking their way through a silent lunch when Doris's phone rang. She looked at the screen and excused herself, going into the living room. Danny could barely make out her voice, let alone any words, but it was a short conversation. She was pushing her phone back into her jeans pocket as she came back into the dining room.
"Wo Fat was spotted at the airport fifteen minutes ago."
"Who spotted him?" Steve asked.
"A friend," Doris replied. "I've had people on the lookout so we could have warning. I figured he wouldn't be too far away, not when he had the temptation of both your powers returning and the possibility I'd come back if that happened."
Steve snorted. "I'm surprised he figured you'd come back for me."
Doris's lips thinned. "Maybe he has a better understanding of what I sacrificed."
Danny put his hand on Steve's thigh, feeling the emotion, somewhere between anger and hurt, flowing through him. He squeezed Steve's thigh, hoping to get him to calm down a little.
He didn't calm down much, but he let the conversation drop, turning his attention back to his food. After a few seconds, Doris sat down and went back to eating her lunch.
When she'd finished eating, Doris went up to her room to make some calls. Danny nudged Steve's knee with his own once she was gone. "You finished with that?" Danny asked, nodding at Steve's half-eaten lunch.
"Yeah. I lost my appetite."
Danny wanted to find a way to erase the lost little boy look that was lurking in the back of Steve's eyes. "Come on," Danny said, pulling Steve to his feet and leading him out back. He felt a little of the tension seep out of Steve as they hit the beach. But not all of it.
"She's probably watching us from her room, you know," Steve said, looking out at the ocean.
"So stop her."
Danny saw one corner of Steve's mouth lift a second before everything stopped. Steve turned to face him. "She'll know."
"She'll know we did something. She won't know what." Danny reached up to lay his palm against Steve's cheek, running a thumb over the lines of tension around Steve's mouth. "Look, we don't know what's going to happen," Danny said carefully. "Are you sure you want things to be like this between the two of you if something bad happens?"
"What do you want me to do, Danny? Just get over it?"
Danny shook his head. "Not over it. Past it."
"No, it's not, and you know it, deep down." Danny dropped his hand to the back of Steve's neck. "You don't have to forget it. You don't even have to forgive it, not completely. But you could try to understand."
"Understand what? You wouldn't do that to Grace."
Danny raised his eyebrows. "I wouldn't? If it would save her life?" He saw the surprise on Steve's face. "If it came down to it, if it was Grace's life on the line," Danny said, each word deliberate, "what would you do?"
"Whatever it took."
"Including leaving forever?"
Steve closed his eyes and sighed. "Okay," he said, opening his eyes again. "I see your point. But after we were old enough to take care of ourselves she could've let us know."
"Like your dad?"
He could see the logic in Steve warring with the emotion. "Point taken," Steve said finally, though he didn't go so far as to say it was a good point, Danny noticed.
"So maybe go a little easier on her?"
Steve sighed again. "I can try," he said after a moment. "But I can't make any promises."
"Trying is progress," Danny said, leaning up for a kiss. He'd just let go when time started again. "Come on, let's go back in the house."
During dinner Steve realized that Danny really wasn't going to let Steve get by without trying to talk to Doris. After the fourth pointed look and third, increasingly hard, kick under the table, Steve turned to Doris and put on a smile. Well, he put on less of a frown.
"So where have you been the last couple of decades?"
Judging by Danny's kick to his leg, and the way Doris's face tightened, Steve guessed maybe his tone hadn't been as conciliatory as it should have. "I mean...I just wondered where you'd lived," Steve said. "That's all."
"Oh." Doris put down her fork and met his eyes. "Asia, mostly," she said. "Australia at times. I had to move around a lot to avoid being found. Wo Fat has quite the network."
"Did you like it there?" Steve glanced at Danny as he asked, and Danny gave him an encouraging smile, so he figured he was doing okay.
Doris shrugged. "There are some lovely parts of the region," she said slowly, "but it wasn't where I wanted to be. My heart was here."
He held back the comment that she should've been, too. He understood a little better now, even if he hadn't quite managed to get past the hurt she'd caused. And he was getting a chance to get to know her, something he would've given anything for over the years, so he might as well take it.
So he asked her about places he'd visited and they compared notes on cities they'd both been to. She asked questions about his career, saying she'd heard bits and pieces, but wanted to know more.
Steve was surprised to realize how much time had passed after he'd finished his dinner. He glanced at his watch, then at Danny, who took it as a cue.
"We should probably check in on Grace," Danny said.
He picked up his plate as he stood, but Doris waved a hand at him. "Go call your daughter. I'll clean up."
Steve followed Danny up the stairs. When the door was closed behind them, Danny pulled Steve into his arms and into a kiss.
A few kisses later, Steve smiled down at him. "That's not checking in with Grace."
"Me? No. Not at all. Not even a little. I'll never complain about that."
"Okay then." Danny's smile warmed Steve. "Nice job, talking to your mom."
For the first time since she'd shown up, Steve found that thinking of her as his mom didn't feel quite as painful. "Thanks. And thanks for the kick in the pants."
"I'm pretty sure that was actually your shin."
"You know what I mean."
"Yeah." Danny gave him one more kiss and let him go, pulling out his phone to call Grace.
After a few minutes of group conversation, Steve left Danny to have a few minutes on the phone alone with his daughter. Steve went downstairs, avoiding the kitchen, walking out on to the lanai via the dining room. He went down to the beach, watching the waves dance in the moonlight.
It was mind blowing to think that he might have a mother again, if they could get rid of Wo Fat. She could stay, and they could get to know each other. Not that it would be easy, but he didn't have enough family that he could afford to ignore the family he did have. And Mary...shit, Mary didn't even know yet.
He'd have to convince Doris to tell her, though he was pretty sure he knew what kind of argument that would be. But Mary was an adult. She deserved to know.
"Such a serious face," a voice said out of the darkness, one that made Steve's blood run cold. "Dare I ask what you're contemplating?"
Steve turned his head to see Wo Fat standing about ten feet away, hands in his pockets, looking as if the question was serious. "How many ways I could kill you before you could get off this beach?" Steve said.
"That would be ill-advised."
"Well, you would say that," Steve said, "but I think it sounds pretty good."
"And if I told you that someone with powers like yours was waiting just outside the Edwards house, and if I don't call them at the right time, Mr. Williams' daughter will be removed from her mother's custody?"
Steve's heart felt as if it stopped. "You touch that little girl," he said, making sure every ounce of steel he had in him went into his voice, "and I will make you pay in ways you couldn't even dream of."
"Oh, I can dream of a lot," Wo Fat said, sounding amused. "Why don't you come with me and I'll show you."
"And if I don't come with you?"
"Then I don't make my call to my friend, and he brings Grace to me instead."
Steve's stomach threatened to toss up what was left of his dinner. "What guarantee do I have that you won't just kidnap her when you're done kidnapping me?"
"Kidnapping is such an ugly word."
"Only if you're the one doing the kidnapping," Steve said. "And that doesn't answer my question."
"You have my word that Grace will not be touched if you come with me."
Steve laughed. "Your word? Excuse me if I don't think that's worth much."
"And yet I assure you, it is." Wo Fat tilted his head, studying Steve more closely. "Why don't you call your mother and ask her? You must have her number."
So Wo Fat knew--or at least suspected--that Doris was alive, but not that she was just inside the house. Interesting. "My mother is dead."
"Your mother is very much alive, and, from what I hear, she was very anxious to talk with you. Surely you've heard from her by now."
"Sorry to disappoint you, but I haven't touched a Ouija board since the sixth grade."
Wo Fat looked at his watch. "I have one minute until I have to call my friend," he said. "Do I let him proceed with the plan to pick up Grace, or do I call and tell him that won't be necessary?"
One minute. Steve memorized his spot and reached for time, feeling it stop instantly, Wo Fat frozen. Steve couldn't do anything to the man--if he really did have to call someone to keep Grace safe, then Steve had to go with him. There was always the chance that Wo Fat was bluffing, but Steve couldn't take that chance. Not with Grace's life.
But he could take the minute to warn Danny.
He didn't have to go far--Danny must have started down to the beach when time stopped, because Steve met him as he ran through the living room. "Wo Fat's on the beach," Steve said.
"Let's lock his ass up."
"Danny, he has someone who can stop time at Rachel's. If he doesn't call the guy in a minute, he's going to stop time and take Grace."
Steve took a deep breath. "If I go with him, he'll leave Grace alone."
"He wants you? Not your mother?"
"He doesn't know she's here."
"So tell him. If that's who he wants--"
"You know I can't," Steve said.
Danny sighed. "I know."
"Look, he doesn't know we can talk, but he'll likely know I stopped time. He might think I left a note. So follow me, track my phone, whatever, but be careful. He'll be on the lookout for you."
"Okay. Just..." Danny pressed his lips together for a second. "Be careful."
He knew Danny was thinking about the fact that he'd saved Steve, and that Steve might be living on borrowed time. But there wasn't anything either of them could do about it. "I have to go," Steve said, leaning down for one kiss. "I love you, Danno."
"Don't say that like you're not coming back."
"I'm coming back."
After one more kiss, Steve ran back out to the beach, standing as close as he could remember to exactly the way he was when he'd frozen time. As soon as it started again, Steve said, "I'll come with you."
"I am happy to see that you have more sense than your parents," Wo Fat said, and Steve had to ball his hands into fists to keep from hitting the man.
"So where are we going?"
"You'll see." Wo Fat turned towards the beach. "Come with me."
Steve followed him down the beach a couple of houses and through Mr. Kapule's yard to a nondescript black sedan parked on the street. "Don't you need to call your friend?" Steve asked.
"I do." Wo Fat pulled out his phone and pressed a button before putting the phone up to his ear. He spoke in rapid Chinese, but Steve caught enough to know that he was instructing the man to wait outside the house for further instructions, but that if Wo Fat did not check in every hour, he was to take Grace.
When he hung up, Wo Fat relayed the instructions he'd given to Steve, and Steve didn't let on he'd understood the first time. If Wo Fat didn't know he spoke Chinese, all the better. "So you see," Wo Fat said, "any attempt to escape and Grace will pay the price."
He saw suddenly, with startling clarity, the choice his mother was faced with all those years ago. The man was far too good at using children to manipulate parents--or in Steve's case, parent adjacent. His mother must have been terrified and seen no other way out.
Steve just hoped he got the chance to tell her he understood now.
He would get the chance, he thought, as the car took off. He wouldn't consider any other outcome. After all, his power wasn't the only tool at his command. He had Danny on his trail. And he had his training.
Wo Fat might've scared Doris into running, but Doris wasn't a SEAL.
They'd only gone a few blocks when Wo Fat pulled over. "We're here already?" Steve asked.
"Not exactly." Wo Fat leaned past Steve to pull something out of the glove compartment. "I just wanted to get a little distance before I did this."
Before Steve could ask what 'this' was, he felt a sharp prick in his leg, and then everything went blurry, a second before it went black.
Danny watched from a distance as Steve and Wo Fat walked down the beach out of sight. He pulled out his phone and called Chin as he ran into the kitchen, where Doris was cleaning up.
She frowned as she saw him. "Something wrong?"
Chin answered at the same time, and Danny told them both, "Steve's been kidnapped by Wo Fat."
He got a, "What?" in stereo, and explained as quickly as possible. "Chin," he said, "if you get back to HQ, can you track his phone?"
"I hadn't left, and I'm already on it," Chin said, and Danny could hear typing in the background.
"Great. Doris and I will follow at a distance, so we'll need you to guide us. If he sees us, it's Grace's life as well as Steve's that's in danger."
Danny looked at Doris. "If you come with me, he's going to know where you are. If this goes bad...."
"I don't care. That's my son. And your daughter. I'm not sacrificing either of them for my safety."
He forgave her for some of Steve's abandonment issues just for that. "Okay, then let's go."
The first thing Steve noticed when he woke up, apart from the fact this his mouth tasted like cotton, was that his shoulders and arms hurt like hell. He realized why when he woke up enough to figure out that he was hanging from a pipe. His hands were cuffed together, his shirt was torn, and Wo Fat was sitting in the room's only chair across from Steve.
Though room was an overstatement--it looked like an old factory or something that had fallen into disrepair, with dim lighting that wasn't even powerful enough to block out the moonlight. That narrowed down the areas where they could be. The fact that he could tell less than hour had passed, based on how much moonlight there was outside, meant it was one of a very few areas, since they were still on Oahu.
That was the good news. The bad news was that he could feel his phone was no longer in his pocket. Maybe if he was lucky, though, Wo Fat had kept it on him.
"You know," Steve said, "now that I think about it, I might have an old number for my mom stored in my phone."
"Such a shame I threw it out the window while we were still stopped then, isn't it?" Wo Fat said, and Steve steeled himself to show no reaction to that. His team had other ways of finding him. "I don't suppose you remember the number."
Steve shook his head, his ears brushing against his biceps. "Sorry, slipped my mind."
"Maybe I can jar your memory, then."
Wo Fat walked forward, his right hand hidden from Steve's line of sight. Steve felt a sharp, burning pain in his abdomen, followed by electricity coursing through him, making him convulse and yanking his shoulders around in ways he was sure they weren't meant to go.
"Do you remember it now?" Wo Fat asked.
"Sorry," Steve said. "I've got nothing but a little tickle on the other side of my stomach. Maybe you can get that for me?"
Wo Fat obliged, and Steve identified the instrument then. A cattle prod. Crude, but effective. He'd experienced it once before, and he had been pretty keen on never having to experience it again.
"Did that help?"
He might not have wanted to experience it again, but the only way to get saved at this point, without putting Grace in danger, was to wait for Danny. Which meant stalling for time. "Sorry. The only place I know to find my mother is her grave."
The cattle prod lit up Steve's chest, and he tried to minimize how much it jerked his body around.
Danny needed to hurry.
Danny was ready to scream. Kono had been checking in at Rachel's when Chin called her. Grace and Rachel were now both safe in the task force headquarters, hidden away where it would take someone longer than a minute to get to them.
The problem was that Danny was also safe at HQ. Because they'd located Steve's phone, on the sidewalk blocks from their house, and they had no idea where to find Steve.
Kono and Chin were frantically searching video from various cameras around the area for any sign of him, but so far there was nothing.
"We know where he was picked up and exactly what time," Danny said. "Why is this so hard?"
Chin and Kono exchanged looks. "We're working our way out in a circle on the cameras, Danny," Chin said softly. "It just takes time, especially at night, when the footage is dark."
Doris came back into the room, but she didn't look encouraged. "I talked to the people I had watching the house, but they never saw anyone."
Danny felt Kono's hand on his shoulder. "We'll find him, Danny," she said.
He knew they'd find him. It was just whether he'd be dead or alive that had Danny worried.
"Where is your mother?"
Steve stayed silent. He'd stopped the smart ass remarks in favor of holding in a reaction to the pain. The prod hit his side this time, sending him jerking to his left and yanking his right shoulder.
"Why do you send out stronger ripples than most of your people?"
My people? Steve hadn't thought of it that way, but he guessed the Tempus Latrones were his people. It felt odd to think of it that way.
The prod hit right in the middle of his sternum, and he flinched, making his shoulders ache across his back.
Speaking of his people, where the hell was Danny?
At Kono's yell, Danny came running. She swiped a still up onto the drop down monitors. "Looks like Wo Fat in the driver's seat, and that's Steve."
He looked at the grainy shot of Steve, clearly unconscious, at Wo Fat's mercy. "Find out where that car went."
Once they had the car, it was relatively easy to trace, but it still felt like ages before they saw it stop in front of an old factory on Sand Island, courtesy of a surveillance camera system HPD had hidden in the area. It was the first time Danny was ever grateful for the drug trade.
Danny was already pulling on his tac vest as he watched Wo Fat drag Steve out of the car and into the building on the screen.
He looked at Chin and Kono, who were putting on their vests, then at Doris, who was wearing a borrowed one from Kono, despite Danny's protests. "Okay," Danny said. "Let's go get Steve."
"I must say I am impressed," Wo Fat said, as if Steve's resistance to torture was an oral report in a class. "It is rare to see someone be able to resist this long."
Steve said nothing, hoping his silence would be interpreted as stoicism instead of an attempt not to react to the pain
"Clearly I am wasting my time trying to torture the information out of you." Wo Fat put down the cattle prod on the chair. "There is only one thing left to do."
He came closer to Steve, looking him up and down before pulling out a handgun. "I had a subject once," Wo Fat said, "who resisted all forms of torture I tried on him. But he was bleeding heavily by the time I finished, and as he slipped into death, he couldn't help himself telling me what I wanted to know."
Wo Fat moved closer still, until he was almost close enough for Steve to reach with his legs. But not quite. "I wonder what secrets you will reveal, McGarrett."
The shot sounded oddly muffled, but the pain that exploded through Steve's leg was anything but. He couldn't tell how badly he was bleeding, but Wo Fat seemed pleased with himself, so it couldn't be good. "Any final words you wish to confess?"
"I confess that I look forward to you burning in Hell."
Wo Fat laughed. "You first, I think."
Danny cursed every car on the road as he swerved through the maze of them to Sand Island. It wasn't far, but he had this sudden sense of urgency. Something had happened, he knew it, in just the same way he could feel Steve's emotions when they were stronger.
They finally made it to the factory. Wo Fat's car was still out front, but that didn't mean he was inside. Or alone. Chin and Kono were less than a minute behind, but Steve didn't have that long, Danny was certain. He charged in, telling Doris to stay put as he ran for the door.
He saw several things at once--Wo Fat, gun in hand, and Steve, hanging from something, and blood. A lot of blood.
Wo Fat raised his gun, aimed at Danny, and Danny shot without having to think about it. Wo Fat dropped, and Danny cleared the gun away and checked for a pulse--finding none--before running to Steve.
The floor around him was slippery with blood. "Okay, it's okay, I'm going to rewind--"
"It's not going to work, Danny," Steve said, his voice thin and far away. "Too much time passed."
"No, there has to be--"
Danny's eyes burned as he looked up at Steve, hanging there, burned and pale, but still alive. There had to be something he could do as long as Steve was still breathing.
"Steve. I can't just not--"
Time stopped, and Steve looked at Danny. "Help me down."
Danny did, pulling him off the pipe and to the floor, practically sitting in Danny's lap, heedless of the blood. "You promised."
"I know, I'm sorry. I tried. It just didn't work. But listen. Tell Grace I love her, okay? And that I'm still here." He pulled his hands up to his heart with some difficulty. "I'm sorry," he said again. "I love you."
"I told you not to say that like you're not coming back," Danny said as Steve went limp, eyes fixed open. "No. No!" The scream was muffled in the dead air as time was still stopped, despite Steve's death. Danny screwed his eyes shut for a moment, tears getting in the way of thinking. "This is not happening."
He wrapped his arms tight around Steve and closed his eyes, focusing on going back, rewinding, searching for a time where he felt the connection he had to Steve flare back into existence and grow brighter.
The flip happened, and Steve was alive and whole, no bullet, no blood on the floor, but still in Danny's arms. "Danny....how?"
"I don't know, and I don't care. I'm just glad it worked." Danny maneuvered Steve out of his arms, placing him gently against a wall. "Let me just deal with this," Danny said, turning to face Wo Fat, frozen in place, cattle prod raised.
Time started again, and Wo Fat stepped forward two steps before realizing that things were different. "Freeze!" Danny said.
Wo Fat didn't listen, and Danny was probably a little too happy when Wo Fat pulled out a gun. Danny shot him--again--clearing the gun and checking for a pulse, feeling a grim satisfaction that he found none, before going back to Steve.
"How are you feeling?" Danny asked, sitting down beside him.
"Considering I was dead?" Steve said. "Can't complain."
Danny laughed, the relief bubbling out of him as Steve joined in. "How's Grace?" Steve asked after their laughter subsided.
"Safe--Kono got both her and Rachel out safely. We'd have been here sooner, we just didn't know where here was."
"His guy wouldn't talk?"
"We never found him. But we took Rachel and Grace to HQ anyway, just in case."
Steve nodded, and Danny could see he had something on his mind, but he let him take the time he needed to get it out. "Danny...I'm sorry."
"For what? Putting my daughter's life before yours? Nobly going into this knowing it was a risk?"
Danny shook his head. "You're alive. That's all that matters."
"And when the Tutela get wind of how much time you just rewound?"
"Maybe they won't."
"That's a nice hope," Steve said, "but we need a plan in case they do."
Danny checked the chains around Steve's wrists, seeing a padlock there. "Hang on," he said, getting up and patting Wo Fat's pockets until he found the key. He helped Steve out of the chains and to his feet.
"Danny, I was serious," Steve said. "We need a plan."
"I know. And we'll make one. But not right this second, okay?"
He pulled Steve into his arms and just held him, his ear on Steve's chest, hearing his heart beat.
"What did you do?"
Doris's voice from the door was not the most welcome sound. Danny shifted to Steve's side, letting Steve lean on him. "I rescued Steve."
She came closer, studying Steve, her eyes welling up a little. "Was he...?"
"Yeah," Danny said, understanding the unspoken 'dead' in the sentence. He didn't blame her--he didn't want to think it either, let alone say it. "I fixed it."
"You had to have gone back at least 8 minutes, judging by where we were when you disappeared from the car--thankfully while we were stuck behind the roadwork," she said, sounding both impressed and scared at the same time. "There will be repercussions."
"You think I care?" Danny asked.
"No. I don't. And I don't care either."
There was something off about her voice, but Danny didn't want to think about it. He wanted to get Steve to a hospital and then home.
Steve and Kono came in, guns out, twin expressions of relief on their faces at seeing everyone but Wo Fat still breathing. "Did we miss anything?"Chin asked as they crossed the room while holstering their guns.
"We'll tell you about it later," Danny said. "Can you guys handle the clean up here?" he asked them. "I'd like to take this guy to a hospital."
"Normally I'd argue that," Steve said, "but if you promise me they have something for these burns, I'll go quietly."
"Now I know you're not well," Danny teased. But he knew Steve was thinking along the same line as he was--it didn't hurt to make sure there was nothing else they couldn't see that might still kill him, given the circumstances. "Come on, let's go."
"I'll drive," Doris said. "You can sit with him in the back."
He handed over the keys without a fight, glad for the excuse not to have to stop touching Steve.
"I can walk, Danny," Steve said, as Danny helped him to the house.
"And yet I notice you are making no attempt to move away."
Steve shrugged, figuring he didn't really need to explain why he was reluctant to move away. Neither of them had argued about Doris driving home from the hospital, only too happy to stay together in the back seat.
Doris had been silent on the drive, but Steve had seen her looking in the rear view mirror often. Whether she'd been watching them, or watching for a tail, he wasn't sure. Maybe both.
But he was too tired to think about it tonight.
He didn't want to think at all, but he specifically didn't want to think about what it felt like to bleed to death, the life slowly draining out of him, his heart pumping faster as if it thought it might somehow get the blood to skip the giant hole in his leg and keep flowing through him.
He shuddered, feeling cold and out of breath all at once. "You okay?" Danny asked, studying his face intently.
Steve gave him a look that Danny apparently interpreted correctly as 'later.'
Doris handed Danny his keys, and he pocketed them with a thank you. Doris looked Steve up and down, as if looking for any sign of injury or expecting him to drop over or something. "Are you really okay?" she asked after a moment.
"I'm fine, Mom."
The word came out easily, for all that he'd had so much trouble with this, and he saw her eyes brighten. "Okay."
"You should probably get some rest, though," Danny said.
"We need to talk about what happened," Doris said. "We need a plan."
Steve tensed up, which made his shoulders hurt like hell. He'd said the same to Danny in the aftermath, but now that he was home, he didn't want to talk about it. He wasn't sure he could talk about it yet, but he didn't want to tell her why, either.
"Not tonight," Danny said, his voice firm as he led Steve to the stairs. "We can regroup first thing in the morning, but right now, we're going to bed."
After a moment, Doris gave them a short nod. "First thing in the morning, then. Goodnight."
They said goodnight as they went up the stairs. When the bedroom door was closed, Steve let Danny shoulder a little more of his weight. "Thanks," Steve said.
"Not letting her grill me tonight."
"You're dead on your feet." Danny winced as he realized what he'd said. "I mean, you need sleep."
"And a shower?" Steve said hopefully.
"And a shower." Danny pulled the scrubs shirt over Steve's head, and Steve was grateful for both the help and the care Danny took with it. He undressed Steve carefully, like unwrapping something precious, until he was completely naked.
Danny ran his fingertips lightly over a few of the burns, lower lip caught between his teeth, his face intent. He shivered as he ran his hand over Steve's thigh, where the gunshot wound had been before Danny had erased what happened.
Had erased Steve's death for a second time.
"Hey," Steve said softly, putting his fingers under Danny's chin to lift it until Danny met his eyes. "I'm fine."
"You were dead."
Steve huffed out a soft laugh. "Yeah, well, it gets easier with practice."
"It's not funny."
"No," Steve agreed. "It's not. But what else is there to do but make jokes about it? Otherwise..." he'd have to think about it as something real. And he didn't want to.
"I know," Danny said, his hands leaving Steve's body, making Steve shiver with a sudden chill. Danny made quick work of his own clothes, scattering them on the floor. Steve had the random thought that they looked good there as Danny took his arm. "Come on," Danny said, leading Steve into the bathroom.
Danny turned the shower on, checking the temperature was just right before guiding Steve into it. Steve went willingly, grateful for once to have someone else telling him what he needed to do, not to have to think for himself. He stood under the spray, eyes closed, letting the water slide down over him from head to toe. It hurt as it went over his burns, a little, but he didn't care.
He wanted, no, needed, to wash away what happened. Wo Fat, the threat to Grace, the torture....
The fall over the cliff had been so quick, reversed so fast that it was more like a memory of a bad dream than reality, albeit a realistic dream. But today was vivid and fresh, from the burn of the prod to the ache in his muscle, the smell of his own flesh burning....
He could run his hand over his torso and feel not only the burns that were there, but also the ones that weren't. Danny's rewind had removed a few of the burns, but the phantom ache of those missing ones hurt almost as much as the ones that were still there.
But the phantom pain of the bullet wound that should have been in his leg was the worst, as much because it wasn't there as because he remembered too clearly how much it hurt. How the blood had felt running down his leg, how the pain everywhere had started to recede as things started to lose color around him, the whole world going gray, including Danny, who was normally every color of the rainbow, depending on his mood, but never dull and gray.
The worst memory of all was Danny's face fading, Steve knowing it was the last time he'd see it, that Danny would be there alone and vulnerable without him, their complementary powers no longer able to keep Danny safe.
"You know," Danny said, "I hear showers work better if you actually move around. Maybe even use some soap."
Steve moved his head out of the spray to open his eyes. Danny was beautiful, all wet and bright, and barely contained movement, like he had a thousand things he wanted to do right then, but he couldn't. Not until Steve was okay. "My shoulders hurt," Steve said.
He wasn't sure if he was just explaining that the water was helping, or asking for help, but Danny apparently knew, as he picked up the soap and started running it over Steve's body. Steve let the hot water sooth the pain out of his shoulders, back and arms, and let Danny's touch push everything else out of his head.
Danny's hands were gentle as they cleaned the burns on Steve's torso. Steve tensed a little at the first touch of soap, and Danny looked up, holding his hand back an inch from the burn. "Should I stop?"
Steve shook his head, eyes holding Danny's. He didn't care if it hurt a little. He wanted Danny's hands on him, replacing the memory, marking that skin with a much deeper, much nicer feeling. He watched Danny's face, the focus and care there as Danny cleaned each burn easing some of the ache inside Steve.
Danny cleaned his way down Steve's body until even the space between his toes was sparkling. He stood, and Steve took the soap from him, using it as an excuse to touch all that naked, furred skin in front of him. By the time he was done cleaning, Steve was hardening, his cock brushing against Danny's erection as Steve leaned past him to put the soap back on the shelf.
"Do I meet with your satisfaction?" Danny asked, his voice laced with amusement and warmth.
"Almost," Steve said, running his hands down Danny's arms.
Steve ran his hands back up Danny's abs and chest. "You're wet."
"We can fix that," Danny said. He leaned past Steve and shut off the water, their cocks brushing again, sending a shiver through Steve.
"Cold?" Danny asked.
Steve shook his head as he stepped out of the shower and stood on the bath mat, contemplating the ache in his shoulders and how much it was going to pull on them as he dried himself off.
Before he could, Danny picked up the towel and started drying Steve bit by bit, taking care with the burns. Steve closed his eyes and enjoyed the sensation of being taken care of.
He opened his eyes when Danny let him go to see Danny drying himself off with quick efficiency. Danny dropped the towel on the floor and took Steve's hand, leading him back into the bedroom and over to the bed.
Steve laid down on his back, head on the pillow, watching as Danny went through a bag and came back to the bed, the burn cream in his hands. Danny knelt on the bed, straddling Steve's thighs, surveying the damage on Steve's torso. His eyes grew darker as he carefully applied the cream to each burn, fingers so gentle that the touch was more soothing than the actual cream.
He finished at last, putting the cap back on the cream and tossing it onto the nightstand, but his eyes were still cloudy as he looked at the burns.
"The hospital said they wouldn't even scar," Steve said, pausing to clear his throat. "In a couple of weeks they'll be a memory."
Danny huffed, eyes meeting Steve's. "Not the worst memory from tonight, even," Danny said after a moment.
"No," Steve agreed quietly. "But I don't want to think about that," he added, hands resting on Danny's hips, fingers sliding over the curve of Danny's ass as Steve moved his hands up to Danny's waist. "So make me forget."
Danny's tongue darted out to wet his lips even as his mouth curved into a small, seductive smile. "I'll do my best."
He got up and went into the bathroom. Steve heard the water running before Danny came back out, drying his hands on a towel that he dropped onto the nightstand. He opened the drawer there and pulled out the lube, eyes heavy-lidded as he positioned himself back on Steve's thighs.
"I want you inside me," Danny said, opening the lube and pouring some onto his hand. "Just you."
Steve licked his lips, understanding the meaning and the implied question. His hands tightened on Danny's hips as he nodded. "Yeah. That...yeah."
Danny's lips quirked up at one corner as he reached for Steve's cock. The first touch made Steve gasp, his hips pushing up into it without conscious thought. Danny didn't tease, though--after a few strokes, he moved his hand back to himself, reaching around to open himself up quickly.
He raised himself over Steve's cock, lowering down slowly, Steve's hands steadying on Danny's hips. The feeling was like nothing Steve had ever experienced, almost overwhelming sensation driving out the memory of every bad current that had gone through his nerves that day and replacing it, branding his nerves from end to end with this instead.
He wanted it to last, but he'd been on edge since the shower, and with nothing around him but Danny, his skin soft, hot and tight around Steve's cock, it couldn't. He came hard, pushing up into Danny as if he could crawl inside if he just shoved a little more.
When he remembered how to breathe, he opened his eyes to see Danny jacking himself, slow, languid movements matching the small undulations of his hips where Steve's cock was softening inside him. Steve reached out, wrapping his hand around Danny's, their fingers intertwining as Steve helped Danny finish himself off.
The tightness of Danny tensing around him sent another wave of shudders through Steve, more pleasure sparking through his body. He dropped his hands back to Danny's hips as Danny slumped over him, lips pressed against Steve's collarbone.
He realized after a moment that Danny wasn't as boneless as he seemed. His hands were braced against the bed on either side of Steve, holding Danny up just enough that he could be almost pressed against Steve, but still just far enough that he wasn't lying on the burns.
Steve didn't know why that made his eyes sting, didn't even question it. He just closed his eyes and held on.
Steve woke wrapped up in Danny, Danny's face buried in the crook of Steve's neck, the two of them tangled together as if they might actually be able to become one if they tried hard enough. They'd showered again at some point--Steve had lost track of time--and Danny had carefully applied the cream again, despite Steve's protests that the burns didn't hurt as much anymore.
They'd been too tired to do anything else then, but now Steve's body was insisting that he make up for that. His cock was filling as it brushed against Danny's thigh with the slow, languid movement of Steve's hips.
Danny's eyes blinked open, bright blue in the sunlight, a ready smile on his face. "Morning," he said, his voice still rough with sleep, making Steve's cock twitch.
"Morning," Steve said, his hand sliding down Danny's back to grip his ass, pulling him in closer.
A knock at the front door distracted Steve, and he looked over his shoulder to where the bedroom door was closed. He heard footsteps and the door opening, then Governor Jameson's voice.
"Shit," he said, feeling the same concern spike through that connection he had with Danny. They pulled apart quickly, grabbing clothes and getting down the stairs in record time.
The governor was standing in the middle of the room, flanked by two men Steve didn't recognize, both in dark gray suits. "Gentlemen," the governor said, her tone giving away nothing about the reason she was there. "Thank you for joining us."
"Do we have a case?" Steve asked, even though he could tell that wasn't it.
"I'm afraid not." The governor looked as if she was choosing her words carefully. "I'm sorry to be here under these circumstances, but I have a confession to make." She took a deep breath. "I know by now you've probably heard of the Tutela, yes?" She didn't wait for them to answer. "I can see by your expressions what you've heard, but I promise you, that is a small group that we long ago banished from our midst."
"So, what," Steve asked, "you just came by to welcome us to the club?"
She shook her head, her perfect politician smile still in place. "I have to admit," she said, "I was surprised to learn that you were Tempus Latrones, Commander. Everyone thought your mother was the last of your line."
"You weren't the only one who was surprised," Steve said. "So what can we do for you?"
"There was a disturbance last night," the governor said. "A great deal of power was used."
Steve studied her face carefully. "And how would you know that if you're not one of us?" He knew already, of course, but he wanted to see just how forthcoming she'd be on the subject.
"The Tutela can feel...ripples," she said, "when Tempus Latrones use their powers. It's how we know when there's a potential for misuse of powers."
"And you think there was misuse last night?" Steve asked.
"We know there was a great deal more power used than usual. Whether or not there was a misuse is what we're here to find out."
Danny took a step closer to Steve as Steve felt the concern spike between them, unsure even which one of them it started with. "And what gives you the right?" Danny asked.
The governor's expression never wavered. "Just as you were given your powers for a reason, Detective, so were we. Our ability to sense the powers was entrusted to us to make sure your powers were used properly."
"And who decides what's proper?" Steve asked.
Doris put her hand on Steve's arm. "What you felt last night was me," she told the governor. "My son was in danger and I saved him. You know how strong our powers can be when family is involved."
The governor nodded. "Thank you," she said. "That clears up the who, but we do need to get a full statement from you, if you'd come with us."
"Excuse me?" Steve asked, ready to intervene, but Doris squeezed his arm.
"Of course," Doris said. "If you'll give me a moment to explain this to my son. He's new to this."
The governor nodded. "We'll be outside," she said, nodding to the two men, who filed out. "Gentlemen," she said, nodding to Steve and Danny before following, closing the door behind her.
"You're not going with them," Steve said. "You don't have to."
"I do," Doris said, her voice barely above a whisper. "If I don't go and give them an explanation they'll keep looking for one, and Wo Fat wasn't the only Casini Tutela out there. There's rumored to be some still in the main group, looking for anomalies. This is just what they need to come after you."
Steve looked at Danny, but one glance at the sympathy on Danny's face told Steve all he needed to know--Danny agreed with Doris. "When will you be back?"
"That depends," she said. "If they buy my explanation that it was an accident that I went back further, then I should be done quickly."
Something about her tone was off. "If they buy it?" Steve asked. "Is there a reason they wouldn't?"
Doris took a long breath. "This wouldn't be the first time I went back further than a minute," she said. "A long time ago, I went back three minutes to save John." She swallowed carefully. "That's why Wo Fat took an interest in me. I tried to cover it up, and it's why he became obsessed. He knew I was lying. And it killed him that he couldn't prove it, so he was determined to stop me from abusing my powers again. By any means possible."
"Why didn't he kill you?"
"They can't," she said. "Even the Casinis live by the code, just a stricter version of it. And Wo Fat is--was nothing if not a man who stuck to the rules."
Steve remembered Wo Fat telling him on the beach to ask his mother if he was a man of his word. Clearly there was more to the story, but they weren't going to get time to hear it now. "So you'll be back?"
"Unless it's going to put you in danger," she said. "If I can't come back, though, I promise to keep in touch."
"I'm sorry, Steve. It's the best I can do. I didn't go through the last twenty years without you and Mary just to put your life in danger now."
She gave him a hug, and he held on tight before letting her go. "I will see you again," she said, her eyes bright with unshed tears.
She gave him a smile before turning to Danny. "Take care of my son."
Her smile turned a little sad. "I have no doubt about that."
She was halfway to the door when Steve said, "Mom."
She turned, and he crossed the space between them to give her another hug. "Be careful."
"I will. I love you."
"Me, too," he whispered before he let her go.
She walked out, the door closing with an odd click that sounded so final it made Steve shudder. He felt Danny come up beside him before Danny put an arm around him. "She'll be okay."
She had to be.
Last chapter! It's done! Can't believe it! Thanks to everyone for the lovely comments along the way. Hope you've enjoyed the ride, and if you have, please let me know--and let me know if it's worth the third story that's brewing in my brain... :)
The thrashing woke Danny, something he'd become used to after a week of it. He sat up, twisting around to look down at Steve. "Steve," he said, firmly, the tone he'd learned worked the best for waking him up without him completely flipping out. "Hey, Steve. Wake up."
The thrashing stopped, and Steve sat up suddenly, blinking. He looked around, eyes finally focusing on Danny in the moonlight. "Danny?"
"You're fine," Danny said in that same tone. "It was a dream."
After a few seconds, Steve blinked again, scrubbing a hand over his face. "Fuck."
A fitting, if not nearly strong enough, epithet for the situation, Danny thought. They were both losing sleep over what had happened, between nightmares and the general feeling that something horrible was going to happen if either one of them let the other one out of their sight.
That Doris hadn't come back wasn't helping. Steve had gotten one message from her, just that she was okay and would be back when she could. He'd destroyed the message for safety and hadn't mentioned it since.
Danny didn't really need a shrink to know that none of this was healthy.
Then again, there really wasn't a shrink for this kind of thing--unless the Tutela had some cousin organization he didn't know about to deal with the mental fallout.
He wasn't about to go asking around to find out.
"You okay?" Danny asked as he saw Steve finally get his breathing under control.
He wasn't. Danny knew it. But he didn't know how to fix it. So he did the only thing he could--he stayed close and held on. "Can you sleep again?"
Steve shuddered. "I think I'm done for the night."
"Yeah," Danny said, checking the clock to see it was just after five. That was the most sleep they'd gotten in a while, which gave him hope. Maybe all they needed was time.
"You okay?" Steve asked, eyes narrowing as he studied Danny.
"Well," Danny said, exhaustion better than truth serum, "we still don't know exactly what the deal is with our powers, your mother has disappeared, the governor, who happens to be our boss, may or may not have it in for us, and we don't know who we can or can't trust outside of our team."
Danny paused to take a breath before continuing. "On top of that, we haven't slept through the night once since you died--and there's a whole other can of worms we could go into while we're talking about this, but I won't, because you clearly don't want to talk about it. So no. Not really okay. No."
Steve took a deep breath. "I'm sorry."
"None of this is your fault. It just is."
Danny shook his head. "You want to do something about it? Tell me about the dreams."
Steve's shudder wasn't encouraging, but Danny thought he needed to talk about them. You only stop being afraid of the monster under the bed when you look under the bed and see it's not really there, after all. "It's more memory than dream," Steve said slowly. "Either I'm falling over the cliff, or I'm dying in that factory, hanging up like a side of beef."
He shuddered again, and Danny put his hand on Steve's thigh. "It never happened."
"But it did," Steve said. "Just like I heard my father die over the phone and he died in my arms later. All of it happened."
And they still didn't know why, and Danny knew Steve hated unanswered questions. "I know," Danny said quietly. "But at the same time, it didn't."
Steve's laugh held no humor. "Tell that to my subconscious."
"It'll get the message in time."
Steve gave him a sheepish half-grin. "Sorry," he said, rubbing at the back of his neck.
"Nothing to be sorry about, babe. You can't get through it without going through it."
"That's deep, Danno."
"What can I say? I'm a bottomless well."
This time there was some amusement in Steve's laugh as he leaned in, pulling Danny into a kiss. "Thanks."
Danny laughed. "I'm going to remind you that you said that later."
Steve rolled his eyes before his expression turned thoughtful. "You know," he said, far too casually to be casual, "if we're not going to sleep, I can think of other uses for the time until morning."
"Mmm," Danny said, already pulling Steve back down onto the bed, "I think you should elaborate on that."
"Sorry, boss," Kono said, her voice tinny over the cell phone speaker. "We've checked every resource we can think of, and there's no sign of your mother."
"But we've got people on the lookout," Chin said. "She has to turn up eventually."
Steve looked at Danny, knowing he was thinking the same thing--she'd managed to stay hidden for twenty years until she was ready to be found. She didn't have to turn up at all.
"Thanks," Steve said, checking the clock, realizing it was after six a.m. "Have you guys been there all night?"
"We were checking in with some contacts in Asia," Chin said. "Time difference."
Steve didn't ask any more questions. He was grateful to them for using their extended network of friends and family to help him out. He wasn't about to grill them over it. "Go home and get some sleep," he said. "We'll call you if anything serious comes up."
"Thanks," they said in unison, before Kono added. "Be careful, guys."
"We will," Steve said before he hung up.
"Are you okay, Uncle Steve?"
Steve raised an eyebrow at Grace over the breakfast table. "I'm fine. Why?"
"You look tired. Our health teacher says being tired is bad for you."
Steve gave her a smile, taking care to make sure it reached his eyes. It wasn't hard--Grace never failed to lighten his mood. And he didn't want her worried about him. He looked around, as if checking for Danny, then leaned in towards her and lowered his voice. "I'll tell you a secret," he said. "Your dad? He snores." Her giggles were like sunshine. "Makes it really hard to sleep, you know?"
The giggles turned into full blown laughter as Danny walked into the room. "What did I miss?" Danny asked.
Steve and Grace looked at each other, and burst out laughing again.
Danny was trying not to watch the road as he waited for Steve to get back. Grace had insisted that Steve take her to school, which Danny didn't have a problem with. He just still couldn't shake the nervous feeling when Steve was out of his sight, even though he could feel that connection that seemed to be growing stronger between them, and could tell that Steve was the happiest he'd been in a week.
If that was what taking Grace to school did for him, Danny would let him do it the rest of the year.
He heard a car and looked out the window, even though he knew it wasn't Steve. Danny looked out the window to see the governor getting out of her car, motioning for her minions, as Danny had come to think of them, to stay outside.
He waited after she knocked, not wanting to give her the satisfaction of knowing that he'd been watching out the window. "Detective Williams," she said when he opened the door. "May I come in?"
He wondered what she'd do if he said no. Besides possibly fire them all. "Of course," he said, pulling the door open wider to let her inside.
She looked around as he closed the door. "Where is Commander McGarrett?"
"He should be back soon," Danny said. As if on cue, he heard the car. "Actually, he's pulling up now."
The governor cocked her head, eyes narrowing. "How did you know that?"
"Because I know the sound of my own car pulling up outside?"
He wondered if she suspected anything about the connection between the two of them, given that he had felt Steve getting closer before he heard the car. But she seemed to take the explanation at face value. "I'll wait until he comes in, then," she said. "How is your daughter?"
"Fine, thank you."
Steve came walked in, looking between Danny and the governor. "Everything okay?" Steve asked.
"Fine," Danny said, even as he pushed the sense at Steve that he should be careful. Not that Steve really needed the warning when it came to the governor, but it didn't hurt to be extra careful. "The governor wanted to talk to both of us."
Steve looked at her. "What can we do for you, Governor?"
"I was wondering if you'd heard from your mother."
Steve shook his head. "Not since she left with you," he said, the lie as smooth as truth. "I was actually going to check with you today and see if she was still with you. She said she'd be back."
Danny didn't miss the way Jameson's mouth tightened at that, and he could tell Steve didn't either. "She left us before we were finished debriefing her," the governor said. "We've been trying to reach her."
"I'm sure she has her reasons for going underground again," Steve said. "Wo Fat may be dead, but I'm told he had a fair amount of friends."
"It's true the Casini faction is still out there," the governor said. "It's why we were trying to help your mother stay safe with us, and why we're worried about her being out there on her own."
"She survived for twenty years running from Wo Fat," Steve said, steel lacing his tone. "I would imagine her odds are a lot better than under the watchful eye of a group who might still house some of Wo Fat's 'friends.'"
The governor pressed her lips into a thin line. "Commander," she said after a moment, "I realize this is all new to you. But I hope you understand that we're in this with you, not against you. The Tutela exist to protect the Tempus Latrones, you know."
"How so?" Steve asked.
"Imagine what would happen if people found out about your powers," she said. "The world knowing that this was possible, being able to find and use people who can do it...no one wants that."
Danny shifted, pressing his arm against Steve's just as he was about to speak. "That would be very bad," Danny said. "And we appreciate it. Thank you."
He wasn't sure if the governor was convinced, but she nodded and gave them a practiced smile. "I trust you'll let me know if you hear from your mother?" she asked Steve.
"I want her to be safe," Steve said. "I'll do whatever it takes to make sure that happens."
Which wasn't what Jameson had asked, but she nodded as if he'd agreed. "Thank you," she said, turning for the door. "I'll see you for our monthly meeting on Thursday?"she said over her shoulder.
Danny waited until the sound of her car died away down the road before asking, "You believe her?"
Steve shrugged. "I don't know who to believe anymore. Which is why we keep everyone close so we can keep an eye on them."
"We'll need to be extra careful around her," Danny said.
"Is there anyone we don't have to be extra careful around?"
Steve nodded. "Speaking of which, Grace wants to have a cook out this weekend with us and Chin and Kono."
It didn't sound like a question. "You told her we could already, didn't you?"
"I, uh...well...I said as long as it was okay with you, but...."
Danny laughed. "The two of you are going to be trouble, I can tell."
Steve smiled, pulling Danny in close. "But you'll keep us anyway, right?"
"I have a choice?"
"No," Steve bent his head for a kiss. "I'm just told it's nice to ask."
"It's also nice to know you can learn."
Steve laughed. "If we didn't have to get to work, I'd take you upstairs and show you what a good student I am when properly motivated."
"Then take this as an opportunity to learn patience."
Steve frowned. "I'm not sure I'm that good a student."